Roger Federer had no trouble playing in his first tournament match since the US Open. In front of his home fans in Basel, Federer easily dismissed Potito Starache 7-6, 6-4 in the first round at the Swiss Indoors.
“My focus now is well at Basel — and the next round is my next priority,” Federer told CNN. “Last year I won here and in London and also had match points in the Paris semis.
“I know I can play well at the end of the season. If I’m going to make a ranking move, that’s what it’s going to take.”
The third-seeded Federer faces a tough field with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick all potential obstacles.
Federer will now play a lefty with the Nieminen-Bellucci winner on Thursday before possibly Roddick in the quarterfinals on Friday before Murray.
Tomorrow, Djokovic takes the court against Xavier Malisse, and the Serb is looking forward to the indoor season.
“I’ve been practising really intensively these past couple of days on the court,” Djokovic said Sunday. “I came with the team on Wednesday and we’ve been practising since. I haven’t played indoors since last December, if I don’t count the match against del Potro this year, so I needed to get some indoor practice. It’s improving each day. For me, the most important thing is to be playing again.”
Djokovic and Federer are on opposite sides of the draw, but playing in Roger’s hometown talk of another showdown is already being discussed.
“We played incredible matches at the French Open and US Open; those matches were decided by small margins and by a few points,” said Djokovic of playing Federer. “He could have easily won the US Open match, and I maybe could have won the French Open match. I have to come up with the best possible tennis against Roger and Rafa that’s what they make you do, that’s the only way I can win.”
And of the top players, Djokovic’s draw I think is the best and should get him easily into the semifinals.
Also tomorrow, Mardy Fish will try to strengthen his London chances against fellow American James Blake. Another London contender, Tomas Berdych, is on against Kei Nishikori.
On Wednesday, Murray meets Robin Haase while Roddick takes on Tommy Haas.
In Valencia, Nikolay Davydenko upset Gilles Simon. Simon’s exit means the Frenchman will have to win the Paris event next week to get into the season-ending London tournament. The top seeds there are David Ferrer and JW Tsonga plus Juan Martin Del Potro and Gael Monfils.
Ferrer and Verdasco match up tomorrow.
A resting Rafael Nadal and a mono-stricken Robin Soderling are the only two top players missing this second-to-last week of the ATP regular tennis season.
TUESDAY BASEL SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 13:30
[Q] J Blake (USA) vs  M Fish (USA)
Not Before 15:00
I Dodig (CRO) vs S Wawrinka (SUI)
Not Before 18:30
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs X Malisse (BEL)
Not Before 20:00
 T Berdych (CZE) vs [WC] K Nishikori (JPN)
I Dodig (CRO) / V Troicki (SRB) vs T Bellucci (BRA) / S Giraldo (COL)
TUESDAY VALENCIA SCHEDULE
AGORA start 1:00 pm
[WC] J Marti (ESP) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs F Verdasco (ESP)
[Q] I Kunitsyn (RUS) vs J Ferrero (ESP)
A Montanes (ESP) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
 N Almagro (ESP) vs [WC] J Monaco (ARG)
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