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Federer a man on a mission at his home Gstaad event


Roger Federer. AP

GSTAAD — Roger Federer will concentrate on both his own fitness and the state of his new prototype racket as he waits for a second-round opponent to emerge for his Thursday afternoon start at the Swiss Open.

The top seed, who has been playing since last week with a larger, 98-square-inch racquet after competing for most of his career with a 90-square-inch model, remains quietly confident that he will be able to make the big switch before travelling to Canada in little more than a week to prepare for the Montreal Masters.

“This racket will probably change over the next few months, we will keep tinkering with it,” said Federer, working closely with his manufacturer. “I’ve tried a lot of models and this is the one I like the best.

“I’ll play Gstaad with it and then we can look ahead. The plan for now is to continue with this racket.”

The ATP number five is the top seed in Gstaad as he returns to the iconic alpine village for the first time since winning the event in 2004.

Federer is trying to put behind him his loss in the semi-final last week in Hamburg to Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis, also playing here.

Federer’s first opponent after a bye will come in the form of German Daniel Brands, whom he beat in three sets in last week’s first round, or longtime mate Marco Chiudinelli, a fellow Basel native.

“Gstaad is a special tournament with altitude (800 meters),” said Federer. “You can’t come here for six weeks to get prepared.

“I’m coming in very relaxed, no-one has much experience on this clay but you can get used to it.”

Federer nudged aside more queries about the state of his back, which occasionally bothers him and which appeared to be taped in Hamburg. He said: “Honestly, last week was not optimal, I couldn’t play as free as I would have liked to do.

“But I just want to make a good preparation and am doing everything to be ready for my first match.”

Before an afternoon rain shower interrupted play, three Spaniards advanced to the second round.

Eighth seed Robert Bautista Agut beat Swiss wild card Henri Laaksonen 6-2, 6-3 with the Finland-born youngster admitting that he put on a poor performance on the main showcourt.

Daniel Gimeno-Traver beat Frenchman Kenny De Schepper 6-4, 6-3 while Spain’s Pablo Andujar crushed Victor Crivoi of Romania 6-1, 6-2, ending a five-match first-round loss streak going back to May in Paris.


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