ROME – Roger Federer’s focus appeared to drift away from the Foro Italico.
And that was understandable.
After all, the 17-time Grand Slam winner was playing for the first time since the birth of his second set of twins last week.
Federer let a lead slip away and was beaten 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) Wednesday in the second round of the Rome Masters by 47th-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France.
When Federer’s boys, Leo and Lenny, were born, the fourth-ranked Swiss player withdrew from last week’s Madrid Open. He only decided to come to Rome a few days ago.
“This one is totally OK if it doesn’t hurt,” Federer said. “I tried everything. I can’t do more than that on the court.”
Federer had a match point in the tiebreaker but Chardy saved it with an improbable cross-court forehand on the run when it looked like Federer was about to close the match out.
“That passing shot is a tough one for me to take, because he’s not going to make that very often,” Federer said. “But it happens and credit to him to fight his way back into the match and get it.”
Later, top-ranked Rafael Nadal also faced stiff resistance from his French opponent before ultimately wearing down 30th-ranked Gilles Simon for a 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 win that lasted 3 hours, 18 minutes — opening his bid for an eighth Rome title.
Nadal hit 32 winners but just three with his backhand, which has become a point of concern recently.
Also, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray eliminated Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 7-5.
Women’s title-holder Serena Williams showed no problems — and no taping — from a left thigh injury that forced her to withdraw from Madrid. The top-ranked American beat 28th-ranked Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-2.
“I’m not 100 percent but I’m getting there,” Williams said, adding that the conditions at the U.S. Open prepared her for the heavy wind gusts at the Foro Italico. “If I can play in New York, I can play anywhere.”
Maria Sharapova, the 2011 and 2012 Rome champion, had to rally in the second set to get by Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig 6-3, 7-5.
After cruising through the first set, Federer began to commit unforced errors at an alarming rate and Chardy quickly took advantage.
“I wasn’t able to stretch the lead when I had it,” Federer said.
Federer committed 43 unforced errors — 20 in the second set alone — to Chardy’s 28. Federer also struggled to dictate play with his first serve.
“But at the end, it was a shot here or there that decided the match,” Federer said.
Chardy hadn’t beaten a top 10 player since defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the third round of last year’s Australian Open.
Also advancing were 11th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who edged Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-6 (16-14), 7-6 (7-5); 12th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (7-3), 6-4; 15th-seeded Tommy Haas, who defeated Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
In women’s play, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska beat Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 6-3, 6-2 and will next face 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, who rallied past Garbine Muguruza 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).