Federer suffers early defeat in Rome, Nadal survives
ROME (Reuters) - Roger Federer will be returning to his newborn twins earlier than expected after his Italian Open adventure ended with a 1-6 6-3 7-6(6) second-round defeat by Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday.
Federer had been hoping to get his claycourt form back in gear after skipping last week's Madrid Open to attend the birth of his twin boys Leo and Lenny but the winner of a record 17 grand slam titles will now be flying back home to his family.
Fourth seed Federer made a promising start but, with dust whipping up off the surface and the ball playing tricks, Chardy fought back with some brutal forehand winners and saved match point in the tiebreak before sealing victory.
World number one Rafael Nadal laboured into the third round with an energy-sapping 7-6(1) 6-7(4) 6-2 victory over dangerous Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The 13-times grand slam winner has endured a slow start to the season, winning just three titles and suffering a number of uncharacteristic losses on his favoured clay surface.
He won the Madrid Open on Sunday after his final opponent Kei Nishikori of Japan was forced to retire through injury having been on the brink of victory and Nadal was forced to endure another scare by Simon.
The 29-year-old forced Nadal into a tiebreak in the opening set but the Spaniard gained the impetus and his heavy groundstrokes gave him the lead.
In the second set Simon, a former world number six, survived an early break, match point, and a brief interruption by an errant pigeon before forcing a deciding set with a series of powerful forehands.
Nadal, the 'King of Clay', coped best in a draining final set and from 2-2 won four games in a row to claim victory but doubts remained about his form ahead of his bid for a record-extending ninth French Open title starting later this month. Continued...