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Federer out of Halle as Djokovic, Tsonga cruise through

HALLE, June 10 – World number two Roger Federer admitted on Tuesday exhaustion has forced him out of Halle's ATP tournament as new top seed Novak Djokovic cruised through to the second round.ROGER_FEDERER_BLUE_302668122.jpg
Federer, who beat Sweden’s Robin Soderling in Sunday’s Roland Garros final to win the last of the Grand Slam titles to evade him, announced on Tuesday evening he is ‘overwhelmed’ and will not defend his Halle title.

"I sincerely apologise to the tournament organisers, my competitors, and my fans in Germany," he said in a statement on his website.

"I only hope they will understand that I still feel emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted by the incredible events of the past few days.

"It is hard for me to admit, but I simply cannot imagine giving my best effort in another tournament right away and I don’t want to risk injury if I am not 100 percent prepared.

"I need to rest and recuperate, but I look forward to returning to Halle in 2010 to go for my sixth title."

With Federer out, Djokovic enjoyed a straight sets win over Italy’s Simone Bolelli earlier in the day.

The 22-year-old Serb needed just one hour and 24 minutes to see off the big-hitting Italian 7-5, 6-2 and after a close first set where Djokovic had to work hard, he used his superior mobility to take the second set with ease.

"For my first game here, I was pretty happy," said Djokovic, who now faces France’s Florent Serra in the second round.

"I was playing quite well, it is always difficult to come from clay where you are sliding around to grass where you need a totally different body movement.

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"I knew he has a strong forehand and I kept him moving around the court, so I deserved the win."

Djokovic is using the grass-court tournament here to prepare for Wimbledon which begins on June 22.

And with Nadal announcing his withdrawal from the Queen’s tournament this week with a knee injury, Djokovic says he hopes the Spaniard makes it to SW19 to defend his Wimbledon title.

"I hope he makes it, it would be a shame for the tournament if the defending champion and world number one doesn’t play through injury."

Earlier, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga needed just over an hour to reach the second round when he beat compatriot Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 6-2 in another easy win.

The 24-year-old Frenchman, ranked ninth in the world, is making his tournament debut, but had few problems in the straight sets victory against the 36-year-old Santoro who is retiring at the end of the season.

Tsonga faces a harder second round match against former world number two Tommy Haas after the German took Federer to five sets in the fourth round at Roland Garros last week.

"I am looking forward to playing Tommy, it will be difficult because he will have the crowd against me," said Tsonga.

"He is playing well at the moment, but I am confident and have no special plan – just to hit the ball as hard as I can."

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Third seed Fernando Verdasco made a first-round exit when he was beaten by Germany’s Philipp Petzschner 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Seventh-seed Jurgen Melzer from Austria will play Germany’s Nicholas Kiefer in the second round after they both won their first-round matches.

Local favourite Mischa Zverev also booked his passage into the second round with a straight sets victory over Australia’s Joseph Sirianni when he served out a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Zverev will now play 2007 Halle champion Tomas Berdych in the next round, while Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber beat compatriot Bjorn Phau 6-4, 6-2 and will play sixth-seeded Russian Dmitry Tursunov in the second-round.

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