Federer returns in style with Zverev victory


Roger Federer showed no ill-effects from his recent back injury as he cruised into the third round of the Italian Open with a straight-sets win over Alexander Zverev.

Federer missed the Barcelona and Madrid Opens due to his back problem, but was in fine form to make a winning start in Rome, the world number two earning a 6-3 7-5 victory.

He was solid on his own serve throughout the 87 minutes on court and produced a string of stunning groundstrokes to get the better of Zverev in the rallies.

The drop shot proved a particularly profitable weapon for the Swiss, the first too good for his young opponent as he brought up the first break, and the second consolidated it a game later.

Zverev's valiant attempts to stay in the set proved futile and Federer's masterclass continued early in the second with an array on pinpoint forehands.

However, the 19-year-old was more competitive in the second set and was able to find a chink in Federer's armour to break back and keep it on serve.

That was as good as it got for Zverev, though, as Federer turned on the style from the baseline, his German opponent faltering at crucial moments on his debut at the tournament.

Federer – who has never won in Rome despite reaching the final on four occasions – quickly reasserted his control, though, and broke at the fourth time of asking in the 11th game.

Another exquisite drop shot helped the 34-year-old wrap up the victory, Federer finishing the match with 25 winners compared to his opponent's 13.