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K9595 BC-TEN-SONYERICSSON 03-27 0636

Federer out to reclaim top ranking

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Four former No. 1-ranked men were on court Friday at the Sony Ericsson Open, but Roger Federer, the most recent to topple from tennis’ top perch, isn’t ready to give up that mantle without a fight.

"I think the true understanders of the game, they know it doesn’t go that quickly," said Federer shortly after toying with American qualifier Kevin Kim, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to a third-round match against Nicolas Kiefer. "Rankings move very quickly. At the moment when a young guy comes up, there’s talk about him and (they) kind of forget about the rest.

"It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it for one year, two years, 10 years."

Of course, losing five consecutive matches to current No. 1 Rafael Nadal, including the Australian Open final earlier this year, as well as losing four consecutive times to No. 4 Andy Murray, seems to signal a changing of the guard.

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Marat Safin, 29, who briefly reached No. 1 in 2000 after winning the first of his two majors, is contemplating retirement.

"He’s had five years on top," said Safin, after downing Spain’s Oscar Hernandez 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 on the Grandstand Court to advance to a third-round match against the 10th-ranked Gael Monfils. "You can’t always expect to be on top for 10 years. It happened to (Pete) Sampras. New guys are hungry, faster and playing better because it’s something new for them."

A slimmer, fifth-seeded Andy Roddick, who finished 2003 at No. 1, improved his 2009 record to 24-4, the best start of his career, with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over left-handed Diego Junqueira in an evening match. Roddick won 24 of his 25 first service points.

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic, another contender to Nadal’s throne, is coming off what he termed "one of the worst matches of his career" in a quarterfinal loss to Roddick at Indian Wells last week, but he cruised to a straight-set victory over Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic by saving all six break points.

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