Roger Federer back in groove; Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova exit
Roger Federer shook off the rust in his first match since Wimbledon as women`s drawcards Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams withdrew injured from the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday.
Federer, who took more than a month off after losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic, beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, improving to 4-0 over the Spaniard without the loss of a set.
But the 34-year-old said that he needed time to adjust again to match conditions after his hiatus.
"It was a good win for me, it can only get tougher from here," said Federer, seeking a record seventh title here.
"I haven`t played in a long time and I felt a bit rusty at times in the first set. I need matches right now, so it was good to start well here.
"I`m happy I got through this first one. Now I know what it`s about.
"I have a day off tomorrow where I can think about how things went today, where I need to improve."
Sharapova has not played since Wimbledon and has now missed both of the major tune-ups prior to the US Open which begins in less than a fortnight.
The WTA number two is nursing a leg injury which also prevented her from playing last week in Toronto. "It`s a tough decision to make, but I think a wise one, in order to give myself the right amount of time to be as healthy as I can be for the Open, which I believe is very realistic," Sharapova said. "But I don`t know if it would be realistic if I did compete and start tomorrow."
The Russian was joined as a victim by Williams, who cited a viral illness.
The pullout of the American gave a walkover into the third round for 2014 finalist Ana Ivanovic.
"I just wasn`t able to get out there tonight. Every match you have to be at your best, to win," said Williams, who made her decision after pre-match warm-up. "I just couldn`t be at my best today."
US Open winner Marin Cilic, the seventh seed, beat Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-2, while Spain`s Feliciano Lopez stopped Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 as the ninth seed lost an opening match for the second straight week.
Sam Querrey put out John Isner 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) and South African 15th seed Kevin Anderson defeated Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-1.
Controversial Nick Kyrgios was dumped out, a 6-2, 6-1 first-round victim of French 12th seed Richard Gasquet.
Kyrgios, building a reputation as the bad boy of the game, was unremarkable in his loss, which lasted for only 56 minutes.
Toronto women`s champion Belinda Bencic maintained her recent giant-killing form with a battling 7-5, 6-3 win over higher-ranked German opponent Angelique Kerber.
Bencic, 18, is brimming with confidence after winning in Toronto at the weekend after a tournament which included a stunning semi-final defeat of Grand Slam-chasing world number one Serena Williams.
Elsewhere Tuesday, Sloane Stephens took down another seed as she beat number 10 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-2.
France`s Kristina Mladenovic overcame Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-1; Flavia Pennetta defeated former Australian Open finalist Domenika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-2.
Mona Barthel beat Australian Casey Dellacqua in a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) comeback while Caroline Garcia beat Sabine Lisicki 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Former number one Victoria Azarenka reached the second round 6-1, 6-2 over Lauren Davis.