Federer at top of game

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Ivan Lendl used to tear through opponents with ease, but figures he wouldn't stand much of a chance against Roger Federer.

"He is capable of hitting shots which other players don't even think about trying," Lendl said at the Rogers Cup yesterday. "He has so many (skills).

"There is no one thing you can go on the court and say, 'Okay, this is how I am going to play the guy.' Even if it starts working, he's going to change it around and all of a sudden you have to adjust yourself. He is a master of that."

Federer, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, improved to 57-4 in 2006 last night when he celebrated his 25th birthday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. Earlier, Federer's top rival, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, needed just 48 minutes to dispose of Nicolas Massu, 6-3, 6-2.

No one at the tournament expects anything less than another chapter in the Roger-Rafa rivalry in the championship match on Sunday. In the seven previous tournaments both have entered this season, Nadal has won four and Federer, who is on a 49-match winning streak in North America, has won three.

Though Nadal is 4-1 against Federer this season, he would not get trapped into looking ahead to the final.

"We are in the second round," Nadal said. "I just look at the next match because I know every match is difficult."

Federer, who was presented with a birthday cake on court after his win, simply was glad to be back in action. It was his first match since winning Wimbledon last month.

AWESOME MATCH

"I'm happy to get away from tennis once in a while but I am happy to get back," he said. "All in all it was an awesome match for me for the first round. The only thing I could improve on (in his match today) is my footwork on defence and getting used to the pace."

Though Federer and Nadal are sailing, some other top seeds at the Rogers Cup have fallen by the wayside.

The eighth seed, Radek Stepanek, pulled out of the tournament because of a shoulder injury he suffered this week; the sixth seed, Nikolay Davydenko, lost to Xavier Malisse; and No. 12 David Ferrer was beaten by Andy Murray.

The Canadian doubles team of Frank Dancevic and Philip Bester lost to Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry.


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