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Federer kicks off Rome Open run with victory

Rome: Roger Federer on Thursday marked his return to the 2019 Italian Open tennis tournament with a solid win over Joao Sousa in the second round while Fernando Verdasco battled back to stun Dominic Thiem.

Switzerland’s Federer, the four-time finalist at the clay-court ATP Masters 1,000 event, took one hour and 21 minutes to edge Sousa 6-4, 6-3, extending his head-to-head record against the Portuguese player to 2-0, following Federer’s win at the 2016 Gerry Weber Open contested on grass in the German city of Halle, reports Efe news.

The 37-year-old Federer, who reached the 2019 Madrid Masters semi-finals last week, was supposed to start his run in Rome on Wednesday but intense rain all day forced the cancellation of the entire schedule.

In other Rome Open action on Thursday, Verdasco fought back to get past Thiem, a semifinalist at the 2019 Madrid Masters.

The Spaniard mounted a comeback to knock the Austrian out of the Italian tournament with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win.

It took 38th-ranked Verdasco, who reached the semi-finals at the Foro Italico in 2010, almost three hours to hand Thiem his fourth defeat following those at the 2015 Wimbledon, the 2017 Paris Masters and the 2018 Rio Open.

Thiem has been crowned champion of two tournaments this year thus far, the 2019 ATP Masters 1,000 Indian Wells and the 2019 Barcelona Open.

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