Roger Federer begins an abbreviated summer hardcourt swing tonight at the Cincinnati Tennis Masters. The World No. 1 took last week off to recover from a productive grass circuit which included a Wimbledon title and an Olympic silver medal. In his first hardcourt match since a stunning loss to Andy Roddick in Miami, in what should be a breeze, Federer, a four-time Cincinnati winner, opens against former American Alex Bogomolov.
“I play to win everywhere I go to,” said Federer, “otherwise I’m not just going to show up and play for a couple matches and then pull out and then I don’t have a chance to win. I’m here trying to play well, and that’s it. Then we’ll see. The preparation for New York, that’s going to happen next week. But this ain’t the preparation week, this is tournament week.”
Federer said that the biggest challenge in transitioning back to hardcourt is the wear and tear on the joints because the cement’s strong footing allows you to max out your movement. “That’s not something the body has been used to for the last three to four months maybe since we finished in Miami,” he said. “And then obviously the jet lag comes into it and the whole thing. I made sure I got here as early as possible so I eliminate as much risk as possible of getting injured coming to the hard courts.”
One player who hasn’t made any sort of transition to harcourts is Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard remains sidelined battling bad knees, and Federer spoke of his friend and rival.
“I was going to write him and check on him because I can’t believe he’s been out that long,” Federer said of Nadal. “I thought the Olympics, okay, that’s fine. That’s a personal choice. I thought for sure we would see him in Toronto, but now he missed Toronto and Cincinnati. It’s very surprising, because it was nothing that we heard of prior to the injury. He played so well on clay, and then actually seemed fine at Wimbledon. He had more time by losing earlier at Wimbledon. So it came as big surprise now, these two pullouts for me. Even the Olympics, too. So I’m sad for him. I hope he’ll be back for the Open.”
Toronto winner Novak Djokovic is also in action today against Andreas Seppi. After a tough, but successful week in Canada, it will be interesting to see how much Djokovic puts out or is able to put out in Cincinnati. Hardcourt is his best surface, but will the strain of the summer schedule catch up to the Serb who will be defending his US Open crown in two weeks? One thing is for sure, Novak is beaming with confidence again after the Toronto title.
“It means already a lot to me now because of the circumstances that I’ve had in last month and a half playing a lot matches, a lot tennis on grass courts, and then having the very emotional Olympic Games and coming in late to Toronto and trying to get used to the surface that I haven’t played on for four, five months,” Djokovic said. “Then the time zone and all those things, which take time. Obviously that’s something that I didn’t have. I had to get used to it in two days and play my first match. It turned out to be a great tournament for me, a tournament that’s going to give me a lot of confidence now.
You know, I love playing on hard courts. It’s my most preferred surface. Hopefully I can try to continue that run.”
If he’s healthy and motivated, I think Djokovic could very well walk away with this Cincinnati title.
After falling out of Toronto with a knee injury, Andy Murray returns against Sam Querrey in a good one. Also on court today are Mardy Fish, David Ferrer, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Juan Martin Del Potro, who plays Tommy Haas in the best match of the day.
Yesterday’s big result was the loss of two-time champion Andy Roddick to Jeremy Chardy. The American who turns 30 later this month appeared to have a back/shoulder issue in the loss to the lucky loser. Roddick’s had a bit of a rebound this summer, but does he still have the game to compete with the best?
“I just had a little bit of a back issue the other day in practice,” said Roddick. “I was supposed to play yesterday and we had a late request to delay it. I felt fine early on, and then I had one lunge forehand and, we have all had it, your back kind of goes out or spasms a little bit. It got progressively worse. He played fine. I don’t know if there was too much of a true reading here today. I think he realised it. He executed the way he had to.
“I feel a lot better about where my game is at now,” Roddick added. “Today was one of those things. What are you going to do about it? But as far as confidence level and where I’m at, there’s no comparison now compared to the beginning of the year, I think.”
Milos Raonic also put up a nice result beating Toronto finalist Richard Gasquet.
Tennis Channel has full TV coverage of the event starting at 11am ET.
CINCINNATI WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
 A Radwanska (POL) vs S Arvidsson (SWE) – WTA
A Seppi (ITA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
[WC] S Querrey (USA) vs  A Murray (GBR) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) – ATP
Not Before 8:30 PM
 N Li (CHN) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
 M Fish (USA) vs C Berlocq (ARG) – ATP
M Barthel (GER) vs  P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
[WC] V Williams (USA) vs C Scheepers (RSA) – WTA
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] S Karatantcheva (KAZ) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP
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Federer Fantastic; Djokovic, Nadal, Murray Today in Cincinnati