Federer struggles to beat Kiefer

MASON (U.S.): Roger Federer failed to hold serve four times but beat Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round of the $2.45 million (euro1.99 million) Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament.

``There's a reason he's No. 1 — he makes the important points,'' Kiefer said.

Fifth-seeded Andy Roddick outlasted Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain in the most closely played match of the day. The American won 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2.

In other matches, third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia also needed three sets to win his match, beating Greg Rusedski of Britain 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 when Rusedski double-faulted on match point.

On Wednesday, Federer failed to hold serve twice in the first set, steadied himself a bit in the second, then failed to hold twice in the third.

``I was struggling in the beginning,'' Federer said. ``The start of the match was crucial, and I couldn't get on top of him there. Still, in the end, to turn it around and not play my best is always a good feeling.''

Kiefer couldn't help but think he let another chance to beat the No. 1 player in the world slip away.

``I couldn't pick up my game when I wanted to,'' Kiefer said. ``I had a big opportunity to beat him. I had my chances. I also had a chance at Wimbledon, but today was my big chance.''

Henin advances

At Toronto, Justin Henin-Hardenne of Belgium made short work of Argentine qualifier Mariana Diaz-Oliva with a 6-1, 6-3 victory in the Rogers Cup.

Henin-Hardenne, the fourth-seeded player in the $1.3 million tournament and the winner two years ago, played with a wrapped right hamstring. But it didn't appear to hinder her against Diaz-Oliva.

``It's getting better,'' Henin-Hardenne said. ``But you'll see me playing with my tape probably through the end of the year, because my doctor told me that I really have to take care of this because it's not 100 per cent.

``I know that it's maybe going to bother me in the next few weeks, new few months.''

Serena hurt

Fifth-seeded Serena Williams withdrew with an injured left knee. Williams defeated Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round on Tuesday.

She had been sidelined since Wimbledon with an injured left ankle.

``Because of my ankle injury I had to take some time off so my leg isn't as strong as it needs to be,'' Williams said in a release. ``So the pain in my knee is a result of that.''

Williams was the sixth top-20 player to withdraw from the event in the past week.

The results: At Mason: Cincinnati Masters ATP event (second round): Lleyton Hewitt bt Greg Rusedski 1-6, 7-5, 6-4; Gael Monfils bt Karol Beck 6-1, 7-6(6); Fernando Gonzalez bt David Nalbandian 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; Olivier Rochus bt Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 6-3; Roger Federer bt Nicolas Kiefer 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Mario Ancic bt Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6(6); Luis Horna bt Guillermo Coria 6-4, 6-4; Dominik Hrbaty bt Robin Soderling 6-4, 7-6(6); Juan Ignacio Chela bt Tim Henman 6-4, 6-4; Marat Safin bt Andy Murray 6-4, 1-6, 6-1; Nikolay Davydenko bt Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-2; Mikhail Youzhny bt Tomas Berdych 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3); Jose Acasuso bt Tommy Robredo 7-6(6), 6-2; Robby Ginepri bt David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3; Gilles Simon bt Carlos Moya 7-6(5), 7-5; Andy Roddick bt Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2.

At Toronto: WTA Rogers Cup (second round): Nadia Petrova bt Sesil Karatantcheva 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; Conchita Martinez bt Dinara Safina 7-5, 6-2; Zheng Jie bt Ai Sugiyama 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3; Hana Sromova bt Rika Fujiwara 4-6, 7-5, 6-0; Justine Henin-Hardenne bt Mariana Diaz-Oliva 6-1, 6-3; Gisela Dulko bt Tatiana Golovin 2-6, 6-0, 6-0; Na Li bt Maria Vento-Kabchi 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2; Nicole Vaidisova bt Nathalie Dechy 6-2, 6-4; Jie Zheng bt Ai Sugiyama 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3; Flavia Pennetta bt Antonella Serra Zanetti 6-4, 6-2; Ana Ivanovic bt Marion Bartoli 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3); Shinobu Asagoe bt Alina Jidkova 6-4, 6-3; Anastasia Myskina bt Laura Granville 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; Kim Clijsters bt Virginie Razzano 6-3, 6-0. — AP