Federer off to winning start
Rotterdam - Roger Federer picked up where he left off seven years ago at the Rotterdam Open, as the 2005 champion won 13 of the last 14 points in a 6-4, 6-4 sweep of Nicolas Mahut on Wednesday.
The world No 3 and top seed then got an unexpected bonus as his scheduled second round opponent Mikhail Youzhny of Russia withdrew with a foot problem sending the Swiss straight into the quarter-finals on Friday and a date with Jarkko Nieminen.
After losing in the Australian Open semi-finals last month against Rafael Nadal, and a Davis Cup rubber at the weekend against American John Isner, Federer was thrilled with his 67-minute victory with one break per set of world No 83 Mahut.
"Any win is a good win. Frankly I'm glad to be in the quarter-finals," said the 16-time Grand Slam winner.
"It's always tough to make the change from clay but after losing my last two singles matches a win is great.
"I had to get used to the conditions quickly. It was a good start, I came through well, Nicolas is a tough player," he said after his third defeat of the Frenchman without a loss.
The other two leading seeds joined Federer in advancing.
Tomas Berdych overpowered his Czech Davis Cup team-mate Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-2 to start his campaign with a win.
Third seed Juan Del Potro made a winning debut as he played the event for the first time and put out 2008 champion Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4.
Both Berdych and Rosol won singles ties at the weekend as they helped their country into the Davis quarter-finals and a date with Serbia.
But Berdych, seeded second, showed his clear superiority in the clash between countrymen.
"I'm satisfied," the world No 7 said after advancing in an hour and a quarter with 10 aces and three breaks of serve as the pair met for the first time.
"It was indoors but still a tough transition from Davis Cup.
"Our court was much faster with lower bounce. I didn't really have much time to train, but I coped with it pretty well. I was able to find my rhythm quite fast and was able to play my game."
Llodra, ranked 47th, was fighting jet-leg after flying in from France's 4-1 Davis Cup victory at the weekend over Canada in Vancouver, nine time zones away.
Del Potro admitted he had trouble closing out victory.
"I was nervous in the last game," said the South American, who returned to the top 10 after reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals where he lost to Federer.
"I'm really pleased to have won in my first match here."
In other first round results, Marcos Baghdatis beat German Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 while Russian Alex Bogomolov advanced as Sergiy Stakhovsky quit injured trailing 6-3, 0-1.
Slovak Karol Beck beat Germany's Philipp Petzschner 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 while Finn Nieminen was first into the quarters with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2) defeat of Pole Lukasz Kubot.
Results from the third day of the ATP Rotterdam Open on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
Roger Federer (SUI x1) bt Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-4, 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE x2) bt Lukas Rosol (CZE) 6-4, 6-2
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) bt Matthias Bachinger (GER) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2
Alex Bogomolov (RUS) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-3, 0-1 - retired
Karol Beck (SVK) bt Philipp Petzschner (GER) 7-6 (8/6), 6-3
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x3) bt Michael Llodra (FRA) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) bt Lukasz Kubot (POL) 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2)