Nadal, Federer era is 'over'
Rotterdam - Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday sauntered into the second round of the ATP Rotterdam Open after a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and declared the era of domination from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is over.
Tsonga was joined in the second round by top seed and defending champion Robin Soderling, who dispatched Dutch wild card Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2 in less than an hour.
Wimledon finalist Tomas Berdych was equally as impressive as the Czech fourth seed beat Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-2 in just 52 minutes.
The eighth-seeded Tsonga who lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic said that the Serb's victory in Melbourne little more than a week ago over Andy Murray marked a gate-crashing of the private party enjoyed by the Swiss and Spaniard for the last half-decade.
"Federer and Nadal are not alone (at the top of the rankings) any more," said Tsonga, who fired 11 aces in his 75-minute win over the 19-year-old Dimitrov.
"Maybe on clay, things (Nadal's victories) are still the same, but not on other surfaces.
"Djokovic and Murray are beating Nadal and Federer very often, all the players are improving their games. It's not just about Nadal and Federer any more."
Tsonga said that his present world ranking of 18 after an injury-marred 2010 season, which saw him fall out of the Top 10, was not a reflection of his present form.
"I've also improved my game but my ranking has gone backwards," he said. "I feel that I'm playing better than two or three years ago.
"I'm in good shape and taking the matches here step by step - but I still feel I have a chance to win the title," said Tsonga, who has won five ATP titles.
Dimitrov, ranked 86th, saved a match point one game from the end against Tsonga, who next plays compatriot Michael Llodra.
Third seed David Ferrer was the first top ranked player to lose as the Spaniard lost 6-3, 6-4 to Finn Jarkko Nieminen in the opening round.
Ferrer, who lost to Andy Murray in the Australian Open semi-finals after ousting compatriot Nadal in the last eight, found himself adrift indoors at the Ahoy stadium.
The world number six who won his first nine matches of the season, was unable to replicate his first-round win over Nieminen in Melbourne, exiting in 75 minutes after holding a 3-1 lead in the second set.
The 43rd-ranked Nieminen, a 2006 semifinalist here, will play Serb Viktor Troicki in the second round after improving his modest record this season to 2-3.
The victory was the first for Nieminen in a month since Doha, a victory followed by first-round defeats in Sydney and Melbourne.
Croatian seventh seed Ivan Ljubicic defeated Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 while German Philipp Kohlschreiber will play two-time French Open finalist Soderling after defeating Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).
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