|Andy Roddick returns a shot to Julien Benneteau during their first-round match at the Tennis Masters Canada© Elsa/Getty Images|
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Playing Andy Roddick during the summer hardcourt season can be a pain in the neck.
Roddick took advantage of a neck injury to France's Julien Benneteau for a 6-4, 6-2 victory in his first match at the $2.5 million Tennis Masters Series/Toronto on Wednesday.
The second-seeded Roddick continued his hardcourt dominance, as he improved to 34-5 on the fast surface, which makes his powerful serve and forehand even more lethal.
Roddick was taking the court for the first time since Sunday, when he defended his title at Indianapolis. Benneteau hung in at 4-5 before being broken to drop the set.
Early in the second set, Benneteau took a tumble and appeared to hurt himself. At 2-2, he took treatment from the ATP trainer but was clearly hurting, dropping the next four games.
"You take what you can get, but it's not fun to win like that," said Roddick, the defending champion.
Last summer, Roddick marched through the hardcourt season with a 27-1 mark, capping it with his U.S. Open title. His play of late has a familiar look to it.
"It was arguably the best summer ever (last year)," he said. "But I'm looking forward, not backward."
On Thursday, Roddick potentially is looking at two matches, necessitated by Tuesday's washout of virtually the entire schedule. His first match is against Feliciano Lopez of Spain, a ball-control specialist who advanced with a 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over Frenchman Nicolas Escude.
If there is anyone who can derail Roddick's run through the hardcourt season, it is Switzerland's Roger Federer, the top-ranked player in the world. Federer advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Hicham Arazi of Morocco in a resumption of the lone match that began Tuesday.
He had 12 aces and saved the only break point he faced. Federer extended his winning streak to 18 matches, including a victory over Roddick in the Wimbledon final. He also boasts the Australian Open among his five titles this year and is an astounding 48-4, including 22-1 on hard courts.
The only other seed who had an easy go of it was No. 5 Tim Henman of Britain, who got past Mariano Zabaleta of Argentina, 6-4, 6-1. Two others were pushed to three sets, while seven disappeared much like the rainy skies.
No. 4 Carlos Moya rallied to defeat Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco, 6-7 (9), 6-3, 6-4, and No. 9 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia recovered for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Rafael Nadal of Spain. No. 3 Guillermo Coria of Argentina trailed Peru's Luis Horna, 4-1, when he retired with a right shoulder injury.
But there were no excuses for the others. Sixth-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina was beaten by Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; No. 8 Rainer Schuettler of Germany suffered a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to Fernando Gonzalez of Chile; No. 11 Gaston Gaudio of Argentina -- the French Open champion -- succumbed to Australia's Todd Reid, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-3; and No. 15 Marat Safin of Russia was eliminated by Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Hardly putting up a fight were No. 12 Sebastian Grosjean, who lost to French compatriot Gregory Carraz, 6-2, 7-6 (3), and No. 13 Nicolas Massu of Chile, a 6-4, 6-4 victim of lucky loser Thomas Johansson of Sweden.