Swiss Federer, American Blake win in Rome

May 8, 2007 at 7:16 PM

ROME, May 8 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Swiss Roger Federer and American James Blake were opening-round winners Tuesday at the Italian Masters in Rome.

Federer, the world No. 1, defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, 6-3, 6-4.

Federer was last year's Rome runner-up to Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who is seeded second at this tournament and is the two-time defending champ.

Blake beat Frenchman Gael Monfils, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

Czech Radek Stepanek defeated German Tommy Haas, the 2002 runner-up, 6-3, 3-2, as Haas retired due to a shoulder problem.

Argentine Jose Acasuso upset eighth-seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic, 6-4, 6-3. In another opening-round upset, Russian Igor Andreev beat Spaniard David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-1.

Three other seeds reached the second round, as No. 12 Czech Tomas Berdych beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen, 6-4, 7-5; No. 13 Frenchman Richard Gasquet beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, 6-1, 7-5; and No. 15 Russian Mikhail Youzhny beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

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