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New roof stays open as Federer wins at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England - The new roof wasn't tested. RogerFederer was -- briefly.

The retractable roof stayed open Monday for the first match onCentre Court at Wimbledon, and Federer fell behind early beforecharging past Yen-hsun Lee of Taiwan, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

Federer failed to convert his first four break-point chances,then lost serve to trail 3-2. But he immediately broke back, brokeagain in the final game of the first set and dominated from there.

"I thought I played really well," Federer said. "My opponentwas tough."

Bidding for his sixth Wimbledon title, Federer won for the 41sttime in his past 42 matches at the All England Club. The lone losscame in last year's final to Rafael Nadal, a match hailed by someas the sport's best ever.

The tournament began in cloudy but dry weather. When it rains,the translucent roof on the 87-year-old stadium will be closed soplay can continue.

Like Federer, 2004 women's Maria Sharapova overcame a slowstart. She won the final four games of the first set and beatqualifier Viktoriya Kutuzova 7-5, 6-4.

"She's a very aggressive player," Sharapova said. "She wentfor many shots very freely and loosely, and I was just trying tohold on."

Sharapova, making a comeback from shoulder surgery last October,saved a set point in the opening set with a forehand winner andlater shook off two awkward spills behind the baseline.

The first seeded player to lose was No. 17 James Blake, who wasbeaten by Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Blake failed to converta set point in the third set and squandered a 5-love lead in thetiebreaker.

Blake also lost in the first round at the French Open lastmonth.

"I still feel like I can play with anyone in the world, butit's just for some reason lately it has been very inconsistent,"he said. "I know I still have the ability. It's just frustrating,because it's happening at big tournaments where I'm having mynot-so-good performances."

For the first match on an immaculate Centre Court, Federerentered sporting a sleek new white warmup outfit with gold trimthat included a jacket with a turned-up collar, a vest, slacks andtwo-toned shoes. The crowd roared when he appeared, and heresponded with a wave and smile.

There were more cheers -- and a few whistles of approval -- whenhe removed his jacket to reveal the vest.

"Kind of a little bit more modern look -- a bit more militaryjacket this time, but obviously staying true to Wimbledon with thewhite colors," Federer said. "I hope people like it."

By the time the match started, Federer had stripped down toshorts and a short-sleeve shirt. He was assigned to play the firstmatch on Centre Court after defending men's champion Nadal withdrewFriday because of sore knees.

"Rafa obviously deserves his spot on Monday, but I feel veryprivileged and honored that they gave me the chance to do it,"Federer said. "I'm obviously a very proud member of the club here,and I've had so much success here, so it was very nice to do it."

The No. 2-seeded Swiss is a strong favorite to win arecord-breaking 15th major title.

After being broken early, Federer held every service game. Hefinished with 10 unforced errors and hit 42 winners from all overthe court.

One winner was a running backhand from several steps beyond thesideline, which he ripped up the line into the corner to win thepoint. It was a spectacular shot even by Federer's standards, andthe stoic Swiss celebrated with a raised fist as the crowd roared.


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