Federer eases into Monte Carlo Masters 3rd round

Associated Press

MONACO (AP) — Roger Federer eased into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters after beating veteran Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2 in 52 minutes on Wednesday.

Federer, returning to the tournament for the first time since 2011, was in ruthless mood as he raced to 5-0 in 17 minutes. The 17-time Grand Slam champion improved his record against the 35-year-old Stepanek to 14-2. The Czech has not beaten Federer in six years.

The fourth-seeded Federer next plays another Czech, Lukas Rosol, who beat Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4.

Federer has never won Monte Carlo, losing in three straight finals to Rafael Nadal from 2006-08.

Stepanek made a terrible hash of a routine volley at the net as Federer pulled back to deuce in the opening game of the second set. He then broke Stepanek with a forehand pass down the line, before clinching his service game with an athletic overhead backhand smash at the net.

Stepanek, who won their first meeting 12 years ago in Gstaad, only briefly threatened in the sixth game as Federer used his forehand to get out of trouble from 15-40 down.

The eight-time champion Nadal, the top seed, was in action late Wednesday against Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili, while Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded third, was to play Marin Cilic of Croatia.

Eighth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada and No. 10 Fabio Fognini of Italy also advanced to the third round.

Raonic rallied to beat Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1, and Fognini downed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-6 (6), 6-4.

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