Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won comfortable opening round matches Wednesday at the final regular season ATP stop of the year, the Paris Masters.
“It feels great, I’m so happy,” said Federer. “It’s been a tough year so this is a little bit of a highlight. It was one of the goals I set myself at the start of the year and I’ve been able to achieve it. I’m looking forward to a good performance in Paris to gear myself up to hopefully play great tennis in London.”
Federer officially secured a berth in the London Finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Kevin Anderson. Federer, who’ll play in the Finals for a 12th time, squanderd a 5-2 second set lead but hung on for the win.
As part of a jammed packed Thursday schedule, Federer now meets German Philipp Kohlschreiber who ended his countryman Tommy Haas’s season.
In another all-countryman duel, Nadal got by Marcel Granollers 7-5, 7-5. Rafa, who’s trying to wrap up the year-end No. 1 ranking this week, moves on to face 2012 surprise Paris finalist Jerzy Janowicz.
“I am happy about the victory today,” said Nadal who has never won the indoor Paris event. “[It was my] first match indoors against not an easy opponent. So it is a good victory, a positive one for me. The victories on days when you are not playing well have much more value than the victories on days that you played well.
“He did a lot of things well. He played short points. He went to the net a lot of times. I have to improve a lot for tomorrow. I hope to be ready to do it. Tomorrow will be a tough match. I had a very tough one against him in Montreal this year. I’m going to try to play aggressively, play with more intensity than what I did today.”
Stanislas Wawrinka improved his London hopes with a 3-set win over Feliciano Lopez. Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, who also won today, and Richard Gasquet are bidding for the final two spots. Raonic will have to make the final to have a chance, but first must test Tomas Berdych in the third round.
Also on Wednesday, defending champion David Ferrer, Grigor Dimitrov, Nicolas Almagro, and Juan Martin Del Potro all were winners. Del Potro, a winner over Marin Cilic, will play Dimitrov.
“I’m confident with my game, and in the important moments I played solid,” said Del Potro who has won 14 of his last 15. “I was just trying to find a way to hit my forehand, and I think I did a good job today.
“I think I’m playing fantastic tennis. I have won four tournaments. I’m back in the Top 5 after three years and a half, and I made the semi-finals at Wimbledon. I’m playing really good at the moment, reaching three finals in a row, which is fantastic for me. My forehand is working really good. My serve has improved tournament by tournament, and I’m really glad with my level at this moment.”
Tomorrow Novak Djokovic returns to face John Isner. Djokovic has won his last 13 matches but has lost to the American the last two times in tournament play (2013 Cincinnai, 2012 Indian Wells).
THURSDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  N Almagro (ESP)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  G Simon (FRA)
 J Isner (USA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
 R Federer (SUI) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)
Not Before 7:30 pm
 R Gasquet (FRA) vs K Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 8:30 pm
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  J Janowicz (POL)
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