Roger Federer kick starts 2014 campaign with straight sets win
Beats Finn Jarko Nieminen 6-4 6-2 in 69 minutes in Brisbane
Using bigger-headed racket at start of season
Andy Murray beaten in second round in Qatar
Roger Federer said he was “pleased” with his switch to a new racket as he began his 2014 ATP Tour campaign with a straight sets victory over fellow 32-year-old Jarkko Nieminen in Brisbane Wednesday.
Federer used the larger-headed racket in a doubles match the night before, but this was his first significant test with the new equipment.
Finn Nieminen was admittedly ideal opposition, he had lost 13 previous encounters with the Swiss star, and slipped to a 6-4 6-2 defeat in 69 minutes in the second round match.
Federer is playing in Australia in the opening week of the season for the first time since 2000 and is proving a big draw in Queensland.
He slipped to No.7 in the rankings in 2013 and has hired Stefan Edberg to his coaching team to help restore his fortunes.
There has also been the introduction of a 98-inch racket head, an experiment he briefly tried after going out early at Wimbledon last summer.
Read: All change in 2014 for Federer
Federer is satisfied with the results and lost only five service points in the second set against Nieminen.
“I had a much longer time to get ready for this swing than I had last time around, after Wimbledon, before the American summer,” he told the ATP Tour official website.
“So I’m not thinking about it when I’m going out there, which is a great thing. I’m hitting the ball really well, so I’m very pleased with the racquet.”
He is competing in the doubles with Nicolas Mahut to ramp up his preparation for the opening grand slam in a fortnight.
“Now I have doubles tomorrow and the singles the next day, so it’s really good for rhythm and good for your game.
“I expect myself to play a bit better in the next match, even though today was already very good for a first match in so many weeks, to be honest, and against Nieminen who can play very good tennis. Particularly here in Australia.”
Read: Serena beats Azarenka in U.S. Open final
In the women’s singles in Brisbane, second seed Victoria Azarenka scored an impressive second round success over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.
The reigning Australian Open champion served notice she will battle to keep that title with a 6-3 6-1 win over the local hope to reach the quarterfinals where she will play unseeded Swiss Stefanie Voegele.
A title match-up is looming against top seed Serena Williamswho is also into the last eight after beating Andrea Petkovic on New Year’s Eve.
Serena’s elder sister Venus has reached the same stage of the WTA event in Auckland, New Zealand.
The 33-year-old Williams trailed by a set and looked set for an upset defeat to Yvonne Meusburger before a typical rally.
Read: Drug test nearly delays Murray’s royal date
She won 10 out of 13 games to clinch a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory.
Later Wednesday, there was a shock defeat for Wimbledon champion Andy Murray at the Qatar Open to German Florian Mayer.
Murray is playing his first competitive matches since back surgery last autumn, but looked well in control when he led by a set and 3-0.
Mayer, ranked 40th in the world, refused to give up and proceeded to win 11 of the last 14 games for a 3-6 6-4 6-2 victory.
Top seed Rafael Nadal survived a scare against another German, Tobias Kamke, dropping the second set in Doha before prevailing 6-3 6-7 6-3.