Struggling Federer loses Masters Cup opener

Fears that Roger Federer's back injury would leave him struggling to make his mark on the Tennis Masters Cup were realised here today when the world No 2 was beaten 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 by Gilles Simon in his opening match.

Although the defending champion can still qualify for the semi-finals, a defeat against the least fancied player in the tougher of the two groups has left him with a major challenge in his remaining round-robin matches against Andy Murray and Andy Roddick. The latter pair met in today's other match, Murray winning 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

Federer, who is attempting to win the Masters Cup for the fifth time in six years, pulled out of the Paris Masters less than a fortnight ago with a sore back and came here having had little chance to prepare properly. He said he had held himself back for fear of causing further damage and had not been able to hit many serves in practice for the tournament

A lack of penetration on his serve was a particular factor – Federer hit only three aces – though almost every department of his game was below par. The Swiss made 50 unforced errors, including 31 on his favoured forehand. "At least now I have three sets under my belt and hopefully I'll play better in the next match," he said afterwards.

Simon, the world No 9, made the elite eight-man field only after Rafael Nadal pulled out with a knee injury. The 23-year-old Frenchman, who plays Murray next, has never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam but has now won both his matches against Federer, having also beaten the former world No 1 at the Toronto Masters in July.

"The better you play, the better he plays," Federer said. "He's quite an unusual player. He makes you work hard and runs very well. I definitely missed shots today that I don't normally. I think that's just lack of practice."

Federer's performance was all too typical of his up-and-down year. The Swiss served poorly in the opening set, but broke Simon in the fifth game. He broke again early in the second set, but Simon hit back immediately and went on to level the match. Federer seemed to have weathered a storm when he came back from 0-40 down to save his serve in the decider, but Simon broke to go 5-3 up before securing his victory with an ace.

"The serve was definitely a factor today," Federer said. "I was cautious and on top of that my serve just wasn't feeling good. Basically I haven't been serving all week, except for maybe 50 serves over the last nine days.

"That's what sometimes happens. The shoulder gets a little rusty and things don't work out the way you want it. I still expect myself to get more serves in. I didn't serve full blast, especially from the start. I don't know if that cost me the match. I was still in a position to win. It was a pity I couldn't get to the finish line before him."

Federer's next opponent is Roddick. When it was suggested to the American that the US Open champion might be more vulnerable given his defeat to Simon he reminded the questioner what had followed his only previous defeat in 18 round-robin matches at this tournament. That was 12 months ago, when Federer was beaten by Fernando Gonzalez but went on to beat Nikolay Davydenko and Roddick in the group stages and Nadal and David Ferrer in the semi-finals and final.

Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor