Federer arrives for Brisbane International

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

BRISBANE, Australia — Roger Federer arrived Down Under on Saturday for the Brisbane International with a refreshed outlook for 2014, no injuries and a new coach on his team.

"It's the first time in a year that I could practice three, four weeks in a row without any setbacks ... I was able to do more than I thought which is very encouraging," Federer said of his offseason. "I didn't play any exhibitions which allowed me to train extremely hard and for a longer period of time."

Federer, who will use the Brisbane event as his only warm-up tournament ahead of the Australian Open which begins Jan. 13 in Melbourne, announced on Facebook on Friday that he'd added former No. 1 Stefan Edberg to his coaching team for at least 10 weeks.

Edberg, a six-time Grand Slam champion, including the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987, joins Federer's support team under head coach Severin Luthi.

Federer, the winner of a record 17 Grand Slams, finished 2013 ranked No. 6 after struggling with a bad back for much of the season.

"Every time I had training (in the past) I had setbacks, little aches and pains, especially in the back from time to time... which cost me confidence," Federer said. "These last few months have been important for me, feeling that movement is not an issue any more."

The Brisbane tournament is also a WTA event which includes Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as its top draw cards. Next week, the ATP and WTA will again combine at the Sydney International.

Federer, who has a first-round bye, will face either Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth or Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.

Second-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, No. 3 Gilles Simon of France and fourth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa also received byes into the second round, as did Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the women's draw.

Third-seeded Sharapova will play Caroline Garcia of France in the first round.

At the Hopman Cup, also part of the Australian Open Series, Canada beat Australia with wins in the opening two singles matches.

Milos Raonic beat Bernard Tomic 7-6 (6), 6-1 before Eugenie Bouchard defeated Sam Stosur 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Bouchard broke Stosur's serve to go up 5-3 in the deciding set, then took advantage of two forehand errors to clinch the match.

Raonic used his strong serve to wear Tomic down.

"He has the best serve in the world right now," Tomic said. "There wasn't much I could do."

In the other Group A clash Saturday, Poland beat Italy. Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2 in women's singles and Andreas Seppi had to retire from his match with illness while trailing 6-4, 2-2 to Grzegorz Panfil. Seppi could not play the mixed doubles, giving Poland a 3-0 win.

The United States, represented by Sloane Stephens and John Isner, plays its first match on Monday against Spain in Group B. France and Czech Republic are the other Group B teams, with the winners of each group playing in the Jan. 4 final.

The Auckland WTA tournament, which includes Venus Williams, lost another player when Britain's Laura Robson pulled out with a left wrist injury. Russian's Elena Vesnina, who would have been the ASB Classic's fourth seed, withdrew last week.

Tournament director Karl Budge said Robson had told him she is "about 95 percent" fit and is not in danger of missing the Australian Open. (AP)

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