MASON, Ohio: Roger Federer won his opening match at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday, a three-set victory over Vasek Pospisil that was his 300th career victory during a Masters tournament.
He's the first player to reach the mark -- Rafael Nadal is second with 281 such wins. After a two-hour struggle, the second-seeded Federer finished off Pospisil 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-2 and advanced in his quest for an unprecedented fifth title in Cincinnati.
The 300 wins "is a nice, round number," Federer said. "I've had some more important ones over the one today. Nevertheless, it's nice to reach such milestones."Federer didn't take control until the middle of the third set, when he broke Pospisil's serve twice for a 4-1 lead. Both players were sloppy in the breezy conditions.
"You just hope to get through the first match in tough conditions," Federer said. "It's important to stay calm even though it's frustrating for much of the match."Top-seeded Serena Williams kept her poise, rallying from behind in both tiebreakers for a 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7) win over Samantha Stosur, the Australian player who beat her in the 2011 U.S. Open final.
"It's good when you play a lot of close matches and you come out on top -- I'm defeated, I'm down and I come back and win," she said. "That's very good." Stosur got ahead 4-0 in the first tiebreaker before Williams rallied. Stosur had two set points in the second tiebreaker, but hit a shot into the net and another one long. Williams clinched it when Stosur dumped another shot into the net.
"Against a player like that you think, `Oh, there is a chance there,"' Stosur said. "More often than not they come up with the goods to shut you down." By contrast, Andy Murray needed little more than an hour to win his opening match, facing only three break points -- and fending all of them off -- during a 6-3, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa.
Murray is still trying to return to form following back surgery last September. He also made a break with coach Ivan Lendl in March that was a big adjustment. "It's been a tough year," Murray said. "There have been a few things happen. Obviously coming back from surgery is hard. To me now, that isn't in any way an excuse. Now I have had enough time to get over it. Obviously with Ivan, that was also tough."
No. 4 Tomas Berdych was ousted in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 upset loss to Yen-Hsun Lu. John Isner, who lost the Cincinnati final last year to Nadal, moved on with a solid 6-3, 7-6 (1) victory over Marinko Matosevic.
"I played so unbelievably well here last year," Isner said. "I'm off to a very good start this year. I love this tournament. I feel very comfortable here." There was an upset in the women's draw. Third-seeded Petra Kvitova had trouble with her serve and lost to Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-6 (2). Kvitova had nine double-faults and made just 52 percent of her first serves.
"I'm disappointed how I played today, for sure," she said. "From the beginning, I didn't feel very comfortable out there."