MASON, Ohio — The ball really zipped off the fast, blue court, especially when it came off Roger Federer's racket.
Federer held serve throughout a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jose Acasuso on Wednesday, facing only one break point in his first match at the Cincinnati Masters. The Swiss star made 70 percent of his first serves and piled up 14 aces while getting accustomed to the tournament's heat, humidity and famously fast courts.
"The transition to Cincy is always a difficult one," Federer said. "I've had very up and down results here. But it just showed sort of how hard it is to get used to these kind of courts. We don't usually play on these fast courts, you know. That's why I'm happy with today's match."
Parts of his game were a little slow, but his accurate serve pushed the speed limit and carried him through a star-packed day at the $3 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. His afternoon match was the second of four in a row on center court involving top-ranked players — Federer, No. 2 Andy Murray, No. 3 Rafael Nadal and No. 4 Novak Djokovic, with No. 5 Andy Roddick suffering a stunning loss to fellow American Sam Querrey, 7-6 (11), 7-6 (3) in the nightcap.
Roddick blew a 5-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker, then lost his cool in a back-and-forth second set. It was Querreys first victory in four career matches against Roddick.
Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal each won two-set matches to get the show going.
"That's the sort of thing I would love if I were a tennis fan," Federer said. "Just keep the same seat, you know. They come rolling in. It's like going to the movie theaters and seeing five, six great movies."
The 28-year-old Federer is the No. 1 feature.
After winning his record 15th Grand Slam at Wimbledon, Federer took time off and became the father of twin girls. He got back on court last week in Montreal and reached the quarterfinals. He's trying to get his game in shape to defend his U.S. Open title in two weeks.
His opening opponent didn't give him many problems.
Federer improved to 5-0 against the 26-year-old Argentine, who is 1-10 against Top 10 players on hard courts. That lone win came three years ago against Tommy Robredo.
Federer didn't face a break point during the 27-minute first set. Acasuso finally got a chance to break through when he was up 3-2 in the second set, but wasted the opportunity by dumping a routine forehand into the net. He threw back his head and yelled in anguish.
That was the only chance he would get.
Djokovic beat Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the opening match. Djokovic was accurate with his shots in the unaccustomed conditions, making only seven unforced errors. By contrast, Ljubicic made mistakes at the worst time. He hit three shots long and dumped another into the net during the first-set tiebreaker.
"I got a feeling it was a pretty fast court," Djokovic said. "He was serving really well, and he was going for shots. He didn't really care to play too much (in) long rallies. It was not easy to hang on, but that's what I did."
Murray won his first match as the world's No. 2 player, a ranking he reached for the first time after winning the title at Montreal last week. Rather than fly to Cincinnati, he decided to make a 13-hour drive for the fun of it.
His 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Spain's Nicolas Almagro wasn't much fun. Rain delayed the first set and ratcheted up the humidity.
Murray took control by winning a 16-point game early in the second set, converting his first break opportunity of the match. Winning the long game seemed to give Murray a lift — he lost only two points off his serve all set.
"If you can get ahead early in the second, it makes a big difference to both players' confidence," said Murray, who won his first Masters title in Cincinnati last year. "I think his head went down a little bit after that. He struggled on his serve afterward, and he had been serving great up until then. It made a big difference."
Nadal is recovering from two months off to let his aching knees heal. The 23-year-old Spaniard reached the quarterfinals in Montreal last week, and took another shaky step in his comeback by beating Italy's Andreas Seppi 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) in a match twice delayed by rain.
Nadal was on the defensive in the second set, surviving eight break points to hold serve. Rain moved in with the score tied at 4 and Nadal facing the eighth break point. After a 62-minute delay, Nadal saved the point and took the set to a tiebreaker.
Play was suspended again because of rain with Nadal up 3-2 in the tiebreaker. After a 15-minute delay, Nadal pulled off the next three points — one on an emphatic crosscourt backhand — to finally take control. He had 24 unforced errors overall.
"It's going to be tough to be at my best the second week (back)," Nadal said. "I need to play more aggressive. I need to play more inside of the court."