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By Gokul Pillai
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World Number four Roger Federer started his campaign for a hopeful fifth title at his hometown tournament, the Swiss Indoors Basel, with a 7-6(3), 6-4 straight set victory over Italian Potito Starace on Monday evening.
Starace went on to reach a break point chance in the opening set, but was unable to convert. The third seeded Federer snatched the tie-break and subsequently broke the Italian to begin with the second set. He claimed the win after one hour and 18 minutes, progressing to a 6-0 record against Starace.
Federer went up to his 50th match win of 2011 making this the 10th straight season he's reached that mark.
Federer said, "Rust showed more on the returning side, trying to see the pace of the ball or being there and anticipating maybe was just missing a bit today. Instead of getting me 30-all chances, I was stuck at 40/15 very often and that’s a tough place to make breaks. In the second set I started to feel a bit better with confidence, first set in the pocket, but I still thought Potito played a good match and made me work extremely hard today."
He will go for his fortieth Basel win when he plays either Fin Jarkko Nieminen, a recent finalist in Stockholm, or Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in the second round. Federer has earned final spot for the past five years at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament, only failing to win the title in 2009 when he surrendered to Novak Djokovic, the first seed this week.
Marcos Baghdatis, 2005 finalist, earned a 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Serbian Viktor Troicki. Baghdatis made the most of five of seven break points opportunities for victory in 164 minutes. Troicki won 59 per cent of his service points and committed four double faults.
Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan marched in as a lucky loser after Jurgen Melzer pulled out with a lower back injury, and recorded a 6-4, 6-2 victory over American Donald Young. Kukushkin went six for nine on his break point chances, while fending off nine of the 12 faced on serve.
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