Potito powers into Rome meeting with Federer
Potito Starace set up his seventh career meeting with Roger Federer with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback win over Czech Radek Stepanek on a windy Monday at the Rome Masters.
Starace, ranked 293 after reaching 27th on the ATP computer in 2007, needed nearly two-and-a-quarter hours to get past Stepanek, whom Federer beat last week in the second round in Madrid.
Starace had lost both of his previous matches with the 34-year-old Czech, who underwent surgery in January to relieve pressure on a nerve in his neck
Federer holds a 6-0 record over Starace, beating the home player in Rome at the Foro Italico in 2006 and earning a straight-sets victory in their last meeting indoors in Basle in 2011.
While leading seeds waited to get started in the second round after byes, the big names at the joint event filled up the practice courts at the last-chance tune-up week prior to the start of the French Open on May 26.
France's Benoit Paire earned a second-round spot at the expense of Argentine Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-4 while Spaniard Albert Ramos defeated Czech Jan Hajaek 7-5, 6-0. Russian Alex Kuznetsov advanced as Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse quit their match trailing 6-2, 3-1.
Tenth seed Janko Tipsarevic withdrew with bronchitis and was replaced in the draw by Czech Lukas Rosol.