MONTREAL, Aug 12 – World number one Roger Federer fought off a surprise showing from Canadian outsider Frederic Niemeyer to advance 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 Tuesday at the ATP Montreal Masters.In his first match since winning his record 15th Grand Slam title last month at Wimbledon, Federer outlasted the 487th-ranked Niemeyer, who is retiring at the end of the season.
"I’m very happy with my game. I reacted well in my first match back," said Federer. "I played the big points well. I’m very pleased.
Niemeyer, 33, saved three match points on his own serve, benefitting from a service winner and a pair of Swiss errors to hold for 4-5 and give his home Quebec crowd a thrill.
But top seed Federer, a new father of twin daughters born July 23, put an end to the dream a game later as he served it out, concluding with his 12th ace of the evening.
Federer, who skipped ther past five tour weeks, saved the only break point he faced in the 86-minute contest.
"There was a stadium full of Canadians cheering for Frederic but there were also a few for me," Federer said.
"I’m happy to be back after the long break. We played at a very high level. Frederic has a big serve and is tough."
Britain’s Andy Murray began his summer hardcourt season with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy as the Scotsman took his first step towards a possible move to the world number two ranking.
Third-ranked Murray had a few niggles to iron out but was not at all dissatisfied with his showing in just over 90 minutes against the number 36 winner of last month’s Stuttgart clay title.
"I shanked a few returns," admitted Murray. "I’m hoping that will get better with a few matches. Overall, I’m pleased with the state of my game right now."
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the 2007 Montreal champion, began his campaign over Canadian Peter Polansky 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).
The world number four admitted to nerves.
"I felt quite good, but not from the start," Djokovic said. "The first couple of games I was sweating a lot and I was quite nervous – it was the first match after Wimbledon. It wasn’t easy to get into the rhythm.
"But I managed to get my things together towards the end of the first set."
Murray is keen to bypass injury returnee Rafael Nadal this week if he can surpass the Spaniard in Montreal.
ATP calculations show that the Scot could take over the second spot from the Spaniard, whose tendinitis-plagued knees are now a constant worry.
"It impossible not to think about it a little bit," confessed Murray. "But when I’m playing my match, it’s the furthest thing from my mind. The only thing I was thinking was winning and nothing to do with rankings."
Eighth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko, playing his first match on cement this summer, put out Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2) to join Murray in the last 16.
In the first round, veteran Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero beat injured Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-4 in the first round as the Australian was hampered by a muscle tear he suffered last week in Washington against Juan Del Potro.
"In the back of my mind, I didn’t want to do any more damage to my leg, either, obviously before going into another Masters Series next week but more the US Open in a couple week’s time," said Hewitt, like Ferrero a former number one.
Tommy Haas rallied past the huge serve of Ivo Karlovic, overcoming 19 aces in a 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 victory.
Elsewhere, US third seed Venus Williams overwhelmed Belarus qualifier Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday to breeze into the third round of a two million-dollar WTA hardcourt tournament.
Russian top seed Dinara Safina rallied to reach to the third round with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Italy’s Roberta Vinci.
Safina’s next opponent will be either China’s Peng Shuai, who ousted Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1, or Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who defeated Russian Vera Dushevina 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
Russian sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova also struggled into the third round, outlasting Czech Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/4).
Second seed Serena Williams is on the opposite side of the draw from Safina and Venus, setting up the possibility of a finals showdown with either barely two weeks before the start of the US Open.