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
  • Get to the point
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.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own