Alex De Minaur in action against Hubert Hurkacz in the first round of the Madrid Open. Picture: Getty Images
Alex De Minaur in action against Hubert Hurkacz in the first round of the Madrid Open. Picture: Getty Images

De Minaur down as Federer fires

ALEX de Minaur's slow return to tennis failed to gather any momentum with a straight sets loss in the first round of the Madrid Open.

De Minaur was ousted 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 15 minutes to world No.52 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

Returning a week ago from a pectoral injury sustained in March, it marked the third time in as many tournaments de Minaur has exited in his opening match.

The Australian has endured the recent tough stretch after starting the year superbly by winning the Sydney International.

He also made the quarter-finals of the Mexican Open.

 

But a seeding at the French Open would still appear to be secure for the 20 year-old who has only minor points to defend before the season-opening grand slam starts on May 26.

Roger Federer shook off a brief bout of pre-match jitters in his return to clay after a three-year absence, posting a 6-2, 6-3 win over Richard Gasquet.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion needed just 52 minutes to brush Gasquet aside in the second round, but confessed he had to control his emotions during afternoon match strategy sessions with his team.

Roger Federer showed he can still be a force on clay courts.
Roger Federer showed he can still be a force on clay courts.

"I was very calm all day, but two hours before, I was feeling it a bit. But that was the only time," Federer said.

"The nerves went away quickly, I'm just happy I started well.

"I'm glad to be back."

The three-time Madrid champion last played on clay almost three years ago, losing to Dominic Thiem in the Rome third round on May 12, 2016.

Federer skipped the dirt for two full seasons to concentrate on his grass court form, winning Wimbledon in 2017.

He claimed the Madrid title in 2006, 2009, and 2012.

"I've been missing the clay, this is a great return, it's a special night for me," he said.

In other early action former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka defeated Patrick Hugues-Herbert 6-2 6-3 in their first-round clash.

Novak Djokovic moved through in straight sets.
Novak Djokovic moved through in straight sets.

And World No.1 Novak Djokovic comfortably beat Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round.

The Serbian, who triumphed in the Spanish capital in 2011 and 2016, was at his best to win in one hour and five minutes over his American opponent.

Guido Pella reached the second round with a surprise 6-2 1-6 6-3 win over Daniil Medvedev, as did his Argentine compatriot Diego Schwartzmann, who ousted Marco Cecchinato 6-0 4-6 6-1.

News Corp Australia

OPINION: Recognising our Naidoc stars

OPINION: Recognising our Naidoc stars

OPINION: Kevin Hogan

Dig deep for farmers

Dig deep for farmers

Help a farmer get through a dry winter

Sweet, bright and in need of love

Sweet, bright and in need of love

In The Doghouse: Meet Jess