| Roger Federer in action against Nicolas Almagro in Rome on Tuesday
Rome: Roger Federer began his bid for a first Rome Masters title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Almagro on Tuesday.
The world number one, who had been given a bye into the second round, won with the minimum effort, raising his game to break the Spaniard in his opening service game and then again in the first game of the second set.
When Almagro created his sole break point of the match in the fifth game of the second set, Federer saved it with an unreturnable serve.
“I think it was a good performance. Nicolas is a good player, especially on clay, and the first round is always difficult. I hope I can play even better in the second round,” said Federer, who finished runner-up in Rome in 2003 and 2006.
In Tuesday’s first-round matches, Marcos Baghdatis gave the most dynamic display, unleashing a barrage of powerful, angled groundstrokes to sweep aside former French Open winner Carlos Moya 6-2, 6-3 in just over an hour.
The 21-year-old Cypriot will next play Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, who progressed when his opponent, 11th seed Tommy Haas, retired at 3-6, 2-3 down with a right shoulder injury.
Former world number one Marat Safin set up an all-Russian second-round clash against fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko by beating Amer Delic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
There was also a first-round win for ninth seed James Blake. (Reuters)