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Roger Federer knows he may no longer be the player to beat, especially on clay. Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic all offer good reasons to suggest that the Swiss ace may now be competing for semi-final spots rather than the titles he used to be.
But the second seed’s display against Pablo Cuevas in his first match in a week was convincing enough to suggest that he could remain in Rome until this weekend.
Federer was the last player to arrive at the Foro Italico from his Swiss home as he looks to juggle family life with a place on the tour. But his 76(3) 64 victory in one hour and 21 minutes showed no signs of rustiness.
“I know I’m not the favourite, like maybe I was in other years, but who cares really,” said Federer, who will take on Kevin Anderson next on Thursday. “I’m happy I won my first round match. That was my focus, especially after last week and last year here, both matches I lost with match points. So I’m happy to get the victory tonight.
“Andy Murray has played well for two weeks now and the form of others is inspiring. Whatever happens here, the French Open will be under new conditions and new balls. Novak’s doing well, Rafa’s right there, everything is normal.”
Meanwhile David Goffin of Belgium caused a shock in the evening as he came from 53 down in the final set to win 75 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 13th seed, to set up a third round meeting with Murray.