DEFENDING champion Roger Federer cruised into the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday by beating Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Federer, a two-time winner at the indoor hard court tournament, had taken a two-week break after losing a grueling five-set semifinal to Andy Murray at the Australian Open. He showed signs of rustiness early against Zemlja.
The Slovenian dropped only one point on his first two service games and then forced two break points on Federer's serve in the fourth game.
But that was as good as it got for the No. 64-ranked Zemlja. Federer switched up a gear, saved both break points and broke in the next game and again in the ninth game to take the opening set.
The second set was over even quicker, with Federer closing out the match in 58 minutes.
Federer conceded he took a while to get into his stride after his break and adjust to the conditions at Ahoy arena.
"Hall play is different. It's warmer, so the ball flies more and it takes a bit of getting used to," he said. "The first ones are never easy. But I'm happy to be back and playing well."
In the evening's final contest, Grigor Dimitrov beat veteran Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 6-3 in their second-round match.
Earlier, Gilles Simon beat Italian qualifier Matteo Viola 6-3, 6-1 to secure a place in the quarterfinals.
Fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau joined Simon in the quarters after a 6-1, 6-3 win over Victor Hanescu.
Marcos Baghdatis reached the second round when Benoit Paire of France retired while trailing 6-0, 6-7 (3), 4-0.
Another French player, fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet beat Viktor Troicki of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-1 to reach the second round.
On the women's tour, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka breezed into the third round of the Qatar Open with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romina Oprandi on Wednesday in Doha.
The defending champion was joined by fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Radwanska beat Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-2, and Wozniacki downed Sorana Cirstea of Romania 7-6 (7), 6-0.
American Sloane Stephens, who upset Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals, lost to Klara Zakopalova 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
Several seeded players lost, including the 16th-seeded Stephens. Marion Bartoli, seeded ninth, lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4, while No. 17 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Christina McHale of the United States. Urszula Radwanska, the sister of Agnieszka, upset 15th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-2, 5-7, 6-0.