Roger Federer in pink? So far, so good. You might not approve of the outfit – I’m partial to the “Darth Federer” ensemble – but Federer is undefeated in pink and undefeated with new coach Paul Annacone after last night’s 7-6(7), 6-3 second round win over Juan Ignacio Chela in the Rogers Cup Tennis Masters second round.
The match was Federer’s first since the shock Wimbledon loss to Tomas Berdych six weeks ago, and there were signs of rust (or just normal Federer play) – shanks, forehand sprays, lethargic movement. But under Annacone, Federer appeared more aggressive and more intent on setting up his offensive from the baseline if not closer.
“I guess today I could play in almost any way I wanted to, because Chela sort of allows you to,” Federer said after collecting a record 210th career Masters win. “He doesn’t have the biggest serve in the game. You know, he likes to rally. But then when he obviously has a shorter ball he can finish it. So that gives me opportunities to maybe serve and volley, maybe chip and charge, to maybe come to the net, to, you know, create good points, but then again it’s dangerous, too, because you sometimes get caught in the longer rallies or then you overhit early on.
“So, I mean, I had many options. I wanted to play on my terms against a player like that, and that’s what I was able to do today somehow.”
For my money, though, Chela on a slick hardcourt is tennis’s equivalent of a tomato can. Up next on Thursday will be a tougher test in either Nicolas Almagro or Michael Llodra.
Federer’s last two Slam conquers were also on center court yesterday. Robin Soderling scored a nice 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Ernests Gulbis while Tomas Berdych braved the early start and bested Sergiy Stakohovsky 6-2, 6-4.
Soderling could face David Nalbandian tomorrow. Nalbandian won his ninth straight match Tuesday in a hard fought three set win over David Ferrer. After the long run it looks like the legs might be going for the alleged “slimmer” Nalbandian. I hope not as he plays former Top 10 Tommy Robredo today.
“I play few tournaments in the beginning of the year,” Nalbandian said of his comeback. “Then I get injuries again, sometimes other courts, but then feel a little better. I started practicing more as the recovery from the injuries can help me a little bit, and then as soon as I start — after Wimbledon feels much better with the body, with the injury, with the hip, and with my tennis, as well. That’s helped me to keep believing in my game. Without matches, it’s tough to win that fast, but I get motivated in Davis Cup first, and then last week as well I think pretty much for the motivation.”
The last American standing, Sam Querrey, also was a winner. He has Kevin Anderson today with a possible shot at Rafael Nadal tomorrow if both win.
Nadal has the “other Swiss” Stan Wawrinka tonight. Stan has the game to give Nadal fits – sturdy backhand, power, good movement. And the match is Nadal’s first since winning Wimbledon. But Rafa has won all five matches and all 11 sets against Stan. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Stan earning his set tonight.
Second-seeded Novak Djokovic takes a 3-1 head-to-head record against Julien Benneteau. And maybe in the match of the day on center court, Andy Murray battles the rapidly improving Xavier Malisse. Murray has the pressure of having to defend his 2009 Canadian crown against a player who’s been in form of late. The 30-year-old Malisse beat Berdcyh last week in Washington and in June he beat Djokovic on the Queen’s grass.
A few results to pass on from the women’s event in Cincinnati. Last night Maria Sharapova ousted her countrywoman Sveta Kuznetsova in three sets. With the Williams sisters absent, Justin Henin injured, Sharapova is slowly playing her way into contention at the US Open.
Amercan upstarts Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe both were defeated. But Christina McHale earned a win when Nadia Petrova retired due to heat just one game from defeat down 5-3 in the second (!!).
Today, Sharapova plays Andrea Petkovic, Ana Ivanovic meets Yaroslava Shvedova and Kim Clijsters tests the fledgling Dinara Safina.
Matches are again on the Tennis Channel today.
WEDNESDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[WC] P Polansky (CAN) vs V Hanescu (ROU)
Not Before 1:00 PM
J Benneteau (FRA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
 A Murray (GBR) vs X Malisse (BEL)
Not Before 7:30 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs S Wawrinka (SUI)
S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) vs  B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
 N Davydenko (RUS) vs [Q] F Fognini (ITA)
D Nalbandian (ARG) vs T Robredo (ESP)
T de Bakker (NED) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
J Chardy (FRA) vs  F Verdasco (ESP)
[Q] Y Lu (TPE) vs [LL] P Mathieu (FRA)
COURT 1 start 11:00 am
O Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  M Youzhny (RUS)
 N Almagro (ESP) vs M Llodra (FRA)
V Troicki (SRB) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs  S Querrey (USA)
 O Marach (AUT) / D Norman (BEL) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER) / G Monfils (FRA) – After Suitable Rest
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