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Federer defeats Karlovic

AP, Kyodo

Roger Federer made a victorious return Friday to the Sony Open after skipping last year’s tournament, and then was treated to a tribute on the stadium video screen.

“It looks like a farewell video,” Federer told the crowd with a laugh. “I miss one year, and you make me feel guilty.”

Federer’s back, as he showed by beating big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). The Swiss star lost just three points on his serve to his 211-cm opponent, and in a match with few rallies, he committed only three unforced errors.

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic followed Federer onto the stadium court and into the third round, defeating Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-3. Defending champion Andy Murray, playing for the first time since he parted with coach Ivan Lendl, rallied to beat Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Another three-time champ, Venus Williams, defeated Anna Schmiedlova 6-3, 6-3. Williams, the oldest player remaining in the women’s draw at 33, is competing at Key Biscayne for the 15th time.

“It’s good to be here still as an oldster,” Williams said.

Kei Nishikori advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Marinko Matosevic.

World No. 21 Nishikori, seeded 20th here, defeated the 72nd-ranked Australian for the fourth time in as many career meetings.

Nishikori struggled with his serve in the opening set, but took six break points off Matosevic to set up a date with Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the next round.

“I didn’t serve well,” Nishikori said. “It’s why the first set was as close as it was.

“I felt a lot more confident after winning the first set. I thought I was in control pretty much for the whole time in the second set.”