Roger Federer will start his Cincinnati title defence today by taking on Philipp Kohlschreiber. Will he return to winning ways?
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Roger Federer is a five-time Cincinnati Masters champion but he's going to need to do something superhuman in order to make it six this week. The world No. 5 has been handed a ridiculously tough draw and his route to the title could theoretically conclude with matches against Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic respectively.
That said, Fedex is unlikely to be thinking too far beyond round two. He'll begin his campaign today with a very tough match, in which he'll be pitted against world No. 26 Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German is renowned for his strong baseline game and surprisingly punchy serve, and he might have it in him to trouble the 17-time slam champion.
Federer and his new racquet in Hamburg. (Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Federer should be fit and raring to go here. He struggled with a back problem in Hamburg and Gstaad, but the fact that he's chosen to compete here after skipping the Rogers Cup indicates that he should be ready for action by now. It will be intriguing to see how he performs with his new racquet now that he's likely to be firing on all cylinders.
Although Kohlschreiber presents a big challenge it's worth noting that Federer has had the measure of him on numerous occasions in the past. The Swiss currently leads their head to head 6-0, and the one set that Kohlschreiber took from him was won in a tie-breaker in a five setter at Wimbledon 2009, so Federer's place in the draw wasn't jeopardised too much.
Kohlschreiber has only taken a set from Federer on one occasion. (THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Federer has a lot to prove here, especially given that he made an early exit at the All-England Club this season. He's losing touch with the top four and he's got the likes of Juan Martin Del Potro breathing down his neck in the rankings. Some big wins could help to reestablish his status as a slam contender in time for the US Open. On the other hand, an early exit would only add fuel to the fire of the doubters.