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Federer, Djokovic on course

ROGER Federer began his bid for a third Sony Ericsson Open title by beating American qualifier Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-2 in Key Biscayne, Florida, on Friday.

The Swiss world No. 2 hopes to end a drought that has left him without a title in his past 12 Masters tournaments, the ATP Tour's most prestigious events aside from the grand slams. His 4-1/2-year reign atop the rankings ended last August when he was overtaken by nemesis Rafael Nadal, but Federer professes optimism that he has the ability to reclaim the top spot.

"The true understanders of the game know it doesn't go that quickly," he said.

His one-hour workout with 30-year-old Kim on stadium court was more like a practice session, especially in the second set. Federer played serve-and-volley and chip-and-charge much more than he would in a tight match.

"I was trying out a few things toward the end, that's true," he said. "I could take my foot off a little bit and just try out a few things."

The No. 2-seeded Federer moved into the third round, where he'll meet Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, who took 2 1/2 hours and saved a match point to see off French veteran Fabrice Santoro 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Also advancing were No. 3 Novak Djokovic, the 2007 champion who beat Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic 6-3, 6-2 and No. 5 Andy Roddick, the 2004 winner who needed only 56 minutes to ease past Diego Junqueira of Argentina 6-1, 6-1.

"In most of my first-round games this year I haven't found the right rhythm but I was pretty happy with the way I started this tournament," Serb Djokovic said.

All three top-10 seeds from France progressed: seventh-seeded Gilles Simon was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Lleyton Hewitt, who held his serve only once; ninth-seeded Gael Monfils overcame American qualifier Michael Russell 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3; and 10th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overwhelmed Agustin Calleri of Argentina 6-1, 6-1.

The Safin family swept its second-round matches. No. 2 Dinara Safina beat Mathilde Johansson of France 6-1, 6-3, and her brother, No. 22 Marat Safin, defeated Oscar Hernandez of Spain 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

Also reaching the third round in women's play were two-time grand slam winner Amelie Mauresmo, Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

France's Mauresmo beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, Dementieva beat fellow Russian Anastasia Pivovarova, ranked 172nd in the world, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, Serb Ivanovic defeated Ukrainian qualifier Mariya Koryttseva 6-0, 6-3 and Kuznetsova of Russia rallied to beat Tamira Paszek of Austria 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.


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