May 7, 2013
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The world No. 2 cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win, taking the match in a breezy one hour and 21 minutes.
Federer was workmanlike in the first set, needing just a break in the fourth game while holding serve throughout. It appeared the second set would be even more clinical, as he broke Stepanek twice and held three match points up 5-2.
Surprisingly, Stepanek got his first break of the match and delayed what seemed to be the inevitable. And inevitable it was, as Federer would win the next game and the match.
While Federer didn't dominate with his serve (one ace), he steadily won his first-serve points (75 percent) and his return game was excellent (37 percent of first return points won, 67 percent of second points won). He also had 20 unforced errors to Stepanek's 30.
For Federer, it was a nice workout after ending a two-month hiatus. It's hardly surprising he would return for this event, one he's won twice since it went to clay (2009, 2012), while reaching three of the last four finals.
Plus, with the French Open just two weeks away, Federer surely wanted to fine-tune his game, especially since Rafael Nadal—who has won at Roland Garros three straight times and seven times in the last eight years—has won four of the six tournaments he's entered in this season and reached the final in the other two.
If Federer hopes to unseat Nadal at the French Open—or get past world No. 1 Novak Djokovic—he'll need to be sharp.
He'll now await the winner of Kei Nishikori versus Viktor Troicki in the third round.
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