Federer fights off Berrer to advance in Basel


Basel (Switzerland) : Roger Federer got back into rhythm two days after a Madrid finals loss, taking a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over German Michael Berrer to start his campaign for a second straight title at the Swiss Indoors.

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The world No.1 Federer said he’s looking to the future and the chance of repeating as champion at the venue where he grew up, after losing in Spain to David Nalbandian.

After ripping through the opening set against a 100 kg German opponent ranked 56th, the Swiss was unable to remain in total control Tuesday.

Berrer took the second on the strength of two breaks before Federer regained the momentum for victory in the third, nosing home in around 90 minutes, his 11th ace setting up a second match point.

Federer laughed off fears that he could have been heading to his first set of back-to-back losses since 2003.

In May that year, he lost to Mark Philippoussis in the Hamburg third round and was beaten in the French Open first round by Peruvian Luis Horna.

“I’m having to explain why I lost a set,” said a smiling Federer. “I’m through to the second round and I have a day off on Wednesday. It couldn’t be better.”

Second seed Fernando Gonzalez, last year’s losing finalist and the champion two years ago, overcame French qualifier Jereme Haehnel 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Spain’s third seed David Ferrer stretched his slump at exactly the wrong moment as he crashed out 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) to Argentine Agustin Calleri.

Ferrer, who stands next in the listing to qualify for a place at Shanghai will have to wait longer to find out his fate.

Ferrer won Tokyo this month but pulled out of Stockholm the week following.

In Madrid last week, he blew a perfect opportunity at a high-yielding Masters event as he lost in the second round to compatriot Feliciano Lopez.

Ferrer is chasing one of the three remaining spots at the season-ending wrap-up event in Shanghai, with Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Andy Roddick already in the field.

But just behind Ferrer are provisional seventh-placed Basel second seed Fernando Gonzalez, Germany’s Tommy Haas (not playing this week due to illness), Spain’s Tommy Robredo and American James Blake, standing tenth.

Argentine seventh seed Juan Chela crashed out on the opening day with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Austrian Stefan Koubek.

Nalbandian is also playing in Basel — he won the 2002 and twice lost finals at the Swiss venue.

But his first test comes Wednesday with the crowd sure to be supporting Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in his first-round upset bid.