Roger Federer took the courts for the first time, officially, with Paul Annacone in the perch, as Federer defeated Juan Ignacio Chela, 7-6, (9-7), 6-3 tonight in the first round of the Rogers Cup, which is being played in Toronto this year.  Nowhere to be seen in the players box was Swiss Davis Cup Captain Severin Luthi, who has been Roger’s official coach until, well, it would seem the last few weeks.  But then when we hear Koenig and Adler tell it tonight during the match on TTC, it didn’t sound like a trial coaching run for Paul Annacone.  You heard that Roger has always had a friendly relationship with Annacone because he was always friendly with Sampras and Henman, and that Roger had wanted to retain Annacone for some time, and could not because of Annacone’s duties for the LTA (England’s Lawn Tennis Association).  Annacone was a coach for the British program, the way Higueras is a coach for the American program, and as Annacone worked too, during a brief period between his 13th major, when Sampras fired him, before hiring him back to win major # 14.

Roger said that he has been talking to Annacone for a “while” and that he would have hired him sooner if he could have.  Koening and Adler remarked on Annacone’s captaincy of the British Davis Cup Team, where he had a chance to coach Andy Murray, that the team had so little talent that Annacone had to be “ecstatic” to be working at the top level of the men’s game.  As for his imprint on Roger so far, only a few points seem to have had that Annacone stamp.  Roger attacked the net while returning serve and punched a volley for a winner to set up a break mid first set, and on another point, Roger got to net and had to make two volleys, because the first wasn’t good enough.  He popped up a forehand volley a little, and then had to lunge and made a great reflex volley for the winner.  Those points seemed like they were  Annacone inspired.

Annacone talking to the British Davis Cup team (above) at a practice on the grounds of Wimbledon.

Roger looked like Roger, in his new pink and grey Nike threads.  He made a bunch of errors, but the serve looked good (9 aces), and he dictated, on his way to 8 break chances and three conversions, and a 1 hour and 21 minute victory.  It’s a good start to the Federer/Anacone era, and Paul looked pretty comfortable sitting in Luthi’s spot next to Mirka, by the way.  Good likelihood that Fed gets Nicolas Almagro in the next round, who impressively bested Richard Gasquet in late July to take the title in Gstaad, in a matchup of one handers on red clay. 


8th seed Andy Roddick looks like he might see his Wimbledon conqueror, Yen Hsun Lu when he takes the court in Toronto for the first time.  Roddick has fallen outside of the top 10, and finds himself outside the top 10 for the first time since early in 2003.  A bad development for American tennis, as we have no players in the top ten for the first time since 1973.  Justin Gimesltob called Roddick’s slide a “glitch” in the rankings system, and said that he feels roddick will be in the top ten for a long time to come.  Life was cruel to Sam Querrey, as the American, one week removed from his defense of his Farmers Classic title.  Querrey got bounced in the first round by Janko Tipsarevic, who he had narrowly beaten, from down 5-1 in a 3rd set breaker, just 4 days earlier in LA.  Querrey is off to a good start in Canada, having beaten American Michael Russell earlier this evening, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.  He faces South African shot making giant Kevin Anderson in the next round, in an interesting rematch of Querrey’s first ever final, when he took Anderson for the title in 3 sets.

Mardy Fish, who won the doubles title in Washington paired with Mark Knowles–no small feat–moved up one place in the rankings to world # 34.  Donald Young slides back to world # 104, and James Blake moves “up” to # 108.  Terrible Taylor D. checks in at # 81, and Michael Russell, # 82–good positions for the hacks they are, though Dent shows us somethingby coming to the net so much.

Speaking of the rankings, would you look at World # 45, David Nalbandian (above), who shot up after an impressive week in which he lost one set, and made short shrift of both Marin Cilic and Marcos Baghdatis in the semis and finals.  Let me give you the lowdown on Nalbandian.  He’s healthy, he looks great–like a guy who can beat anyone.  And when he’s healthy and conditioned, as he is now, he is going to be absolute hell in a best of 3.  But Nalbandian’s game is all about the pounding.  He’s a power mover.  It shouldn’t take too long before the pounding wears him out to where he’s playing long matches, which isn’t good for him.  In a good tennis match, he took out David Ferrer in 3 sets tonight, hard fought, and now Ferrer leads the head to head 6 to 5.  We’d look for Nalbandian to make a good showing in Montrel and Cincinnati, before petering out at The Open.  But it’s good to have him back nontheless.

In the women’s game, life was cruel for San Diego champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who had to get across country and face Maria Sharapova in the first round in Cincy, who took her out, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.  Sharapova, now popping the serve again, is not who you want to face right now on the women’s side.  And we are very happy tonight for Christina McHale (above), who got a wildcard and made the best of it by beating Nadia Petrova today, 7-6 (4), 5-3 ret.  It would be nice to see McHale get on a roll this month before The Open.

–Crack (,