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Federer, Murray win first matches since Wimbledon

ROGER Federer, playing for the first time since winning Wimbledon, returned to the court with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Canada's Frederic Niemeyer at the Rogers Cup yesterday.

Federer, who took time off while his wife gave birth to twin girls, took a set to find his range and then the top-ranked Swiss star put away the low-ranked Niemeyer.

The 33-year-old Niemeyer, whose ranking has tumbled to 487th, plans to retire at the end of this season.

"'He's a nice man," said Federer. "It's sad when you leave the game, but he seems happy with himself, so I wish him well. ... We played each other in a satellite in front of two people. It was snowing outside. And 11 years later we're playing in front of a packed house here in Montreal."

Niemeyer had a double-fault in the first set tiebreaker, then lost his serve at 3-3 in the second set and Federer served out the match.

"The atmosphere was unbelievable," Niemeyer said. "It's my last match here and I was able to play the way I'm capable of playing. Too bad it was my last one, but I have no regrets. I just enjoyed the moment."

Federer said Niemeyer gave him trouble with his serve, which made it difficult to establish a rhythm in his game.

"After five or six weeks of not playing matches, just practice matches, you're a little slow on the returns," Federer said.

Earlier, Andy Murray - also playing his first match since Wimbledon - beat France's Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-2.

Murray lost to Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon semifinals five weeks ago, and he had enough form to get past Chardy. Murray converted three of eight break chances, while Chardy missed all 10 of his.

"I feel better now I've got through the first one, because you lose your rhythm a bit," said the third-seeded Murray. "I didn't really have more than six or seven days off without playing a match for a long time."

Murray is off to the best start of his career with a 46-7 record, winning four tournaments this year.

With Rafael Nadal struggling on sore knees, Murray can overtake the Spaniard for the No. 2 ranking if he wins the tournament. Murray also could attain No. 2 if he reaches the final and Nadal loses in the semifinals.

"I've been asked about it a lot so, it's impossible not to think about it. But when I'm playing my match, it's the furthest thing from my mind," Murray said of the rankings.

Nadal played doubles on Tuesday. He's scheduled to play singles on Wednesday, the first since he lost in the fourth round of the French Open and withdrew from Wimbledon because of tendinitis in his knees.

Following a first-round bye into the second round, Murray will next face the winner between Juan Carlos Ferrero and 13th-seeded Gael Monfils. Ferrero advanced by defeating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-4 in a match of former No. 1s.

The Spaniard improved to 4-6 in career matches against Hewitt. Ferrero needed to get through two qualifiers to play in the tournament.

Last year, Hewitt missed the Rogers Cup because of hip surgery. He said he injured a leg last week and wasn't able to train for several days. He said it restricted his movement on the court, but he hopes to be back on form before the US Open at the end of the month.

Joining Murray in the third round were fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic, who trailed 3-0 in the first set before rallying for a 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory over Canadian Peter Polansky, and eighth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, who overcame Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in two hours.

Czech seeds Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych were ousted in their first-round matches. Stepanek (16th) fell to lucky loser Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4, and Berdych (17th) lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4 for the first time in five meetings.

Other first-round winners included 10th-seeded Fernando Verdasco, 11thy-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, Tommy Robredo of Spain, Victor Hanescu of Romania, Spaniard David Ferrer, Tommy Haas of Germany, and Colombia's Alejandro Falla.


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