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Federer to compete without a coach

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HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) -- Roger Federer will play the French Open and Wimbledon without a coach after splitting with Tony Roche, the world number one said on Monday.

Federer, who had worked with the 61-year-old Australian on a part-time basis since 2005, blamed communication problems for the parting of ways, which he announced on Saturday after a run of four tournaments without a title.

"It wasn't an easy decision," Federer told reporters at the Hamburg Masters, where he is the top seed.

"He's helped me a lot but in the end he was a part-time coach. We were together only 15 weeks a year and I just thought the communication wasn't going very far any more."

Federer, who said he had been thinking about a change for some time, added that he had the experience to go into the next two grand slam tournaments without help.

"I'm not going to take a coach because I know what it takes to win," he said. "I don't want anyone interfering with my preparation."

Federer won six of his 10 grand slams while working with Roche, who had previously coached Ivan Lendl and Pat Rafter.

But the 25-year-old Federer has had success on his own, too. He won his first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2003 with Peter Lundgren but let the Swede go less than six months later. He then went on to lift three more majors in 2004 after opting to go it alone.

Federer, who has never won the French Open, needs to take the Roland Garros title to become only the third man after American Don Budge and Australian Rod Laver to hold all four majors at the same time.

Spain's Rafael Nadal, the second seed in Hamburg, has won the French Open for the last two years and is on a 77-match winning streak on clay, dating back to April 2005.

Federer and Nadal are among the top seeds with a first-round bye in the Hamburg Masters.

Former world number ones Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marat Safin moved smoothly into the second round on Monday but last year's runner-up Radek Stepanek fell to Arnaud Clement.

Convincing win

Hewitt, playing at Hamburg for the first time since 2004 and seeded 16th, had a convincing 6-3 6-4 victory over Agustin Calleri of Argentina in his opening match of the claycourt tournament.

Ferrero, the 15th seed, moved a step closer to a possible third-round clash with Roger Federer with a 6-1 7-6 win over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the first match up on centre court.

Ferrero will play Safin in the second round after the Russian beat Nicolas Massu of Chile 7-6 6-4.

Stepanek was broken four times by Clement, a former finalist at the Australian Open and he went down 6-3 6-7 6-3 in two hours 20 minutes.

The Frenchman will play number eight seed James Blake of the United States in the second round.

Stepanek lost to Spaniard Tommy Robredo in straight sets in last year's final. Robredo is the sixth seed this year and, like Federer, Rafael Nadal and the rest of the top eight seeds, he has a bye into the second round.

Hewitt was recently given a clean bill of health after a frustrating series of injuries and the Australian was delighted with his first-round performance.

"A 6-3 6-4 win over a quality claycourt opponent was very good," the Australian told reporters. "It's good to be back here after I missed a couple of years with injuries.

"I haven't given myself a goal this week. I just want to get as many matches under my belt as possible going into Paris."

The only seed to fall on the first day was Marcos Baghdatis, who was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber and even that was not much of a surprise.

Kohlschreiber, the improving 23-year-old, beat the Cypriot in straight sets in the semi-finals in Munich earlier this month before going on to win his first ATP title.

Federer, the world number one, will face Juan Monaco in the second round after the Argentine beat Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia 6-2 6-2 in the first round on Monday.

It will be Federer's first match since splitting from his part-time coach Tony Roche.

Nadal, who is on a 77-match winning streak on clay, will face the winner of Tuesday's first-round match between German hopeful Benjamin Becker and Oscar Hernandez of Spain.


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