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Mon 17 Mar 2008 07:21 AM

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Federer finds his feet as Haas halts Roddick

Roger Federer has moved into the third round of the Indian Wells Masters Series.

World number one Roger Federer, in search of his first title of 2008, moved smoothly into the third round of the Indian Wells Masters Series on Sunday.

The top-seeded Swiss, who enjoyed a first-round bye, defeated Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-2 in his first ATP outing since a first-round ouster at Dubai last week.

Federer, who has put his quiet start in 2008 down to a bout of mononucleosis, is hoping a return to the California desert, where he won the title three years in a row from 2004-2006, will be the tonic he needs.

"I haven't played much, this is the difficulty," he said. "I felt pretty good out there."

While Federer began to gather steam, red-hot Andy Roddick was cooled off Sunday by Germany's Tommy Haas.

Haas, 29, used a break in each set to defeat sixth-seeded Roddick 6-4, 6-4, displaying an array of crisp passing shots and asserting himself when it mattered most.

"Today was one of the matches where I won the majority of the important points," Haas said. "When I broke him, I really played some great points, backhand and forehand passing shots and forehand lobs. That was really the only difference today."

Roddick had come into the tournament on a high, with titles in San Jose and last week in Dubai already to his credit this year.

But after enjoying a first-round bye he fell at the first hurdle of this 5.7 million-dollar tournament, which features both the men's Masters Series event and a WTA tier one tournament.

The American insisted that the defeat, his seventh against Haas in 10 career meetings, was just a bump in the road, not a major obstacle.

"I've been playing very, very well for the last month, so I'm not going to freak out over this loss and forget everything I've been able to work towards," Roddick said.

"I feel good about the way I've been playing. It's a lot easier sitting here after this loss today, having put together the body of work I have over the last month. It affects your confidence a lot less."

Haas, meanwhile, arrived at the first Masters Series of the season hoping to jump start his 2008 campaign.

After undergoing shoulder surgery in November, Haas didn't play his first tournament of the year until February, falling from 11th to 27th in the rankings.

His best previous results this season were second-round appearances in San Jose and Memphis.

Haas broke Roddick in the ninth game of the opening set and calmly served it out. He earned the lone break of the second set in the seventh game, then held off a determined Roddick in the next game to preserve his advantage.

Serving for the match, Haas raced to a 40-0 lead, but badly missed a forehand volley then sent a crosscourt forehand wide on his first two match points. Haas finally claimed the match with a forehand that clipped the net and dropped out of Roddick's reach.

Such a match, Haas said, reminded him of why he put himself through multiple surgeries in a bid to continue his career.

"When you go out there playing a top American player, this why you train hard and you enjoy these moments a lot," he said.

In early men's play, 11th-seeded Andy Murray overcame a slow start to defeat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Murray who has already won titles this year in Doha and Marseille, next faces Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who downed South African Rik De Voest 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

Seventh-seeded Argentinian David Nalbandian also advanced, defeating Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).

In women's play, Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, the fourth seed, moved into the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Greece's Eleni Daniilidou.

Second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova struggled through with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova.

Kuznetsova booked a meeting with Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, a 6-0, 6-2 winner over Japan's Aiko Nakamura.

Other women's seeds in action included defending champion and fifth seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, taking on China's Zheng Jie, as well as number eight Dinara Safina of Russia and ninth-seeded Shahar Peer of Israel.

Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo of France was eliminated by Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko 6-1, 6-2.

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