ROME (AP) — Roger Federer opened his clay-court season with a rare doubles victory Monday at the Rome Masters, while John Isner celebrated his 25th birthday by rallying past Horacio Zeballos.
The top-ranked Federer paired with Swiss Davis Cup teammate Yves Allegro to defeat Johan Brunstrom of Sweden and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands Antilles 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Isner, the top American in the draw after Andy Roddick's withdrawal, had 20 aces in the 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 win. He faced only one break point — which he lost.
Federer held serve throughout and showed effective volleying skills in his first match at the new 10,500-seat stadium at the Foro Italico.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner is playing his first tournament on clay since winning his only French Open title last year. It also marked Federer first doubles match this year.
He won the gold medal with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Federer and Allegro will face sixth-seeded Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia.
In singles, Federer will open against 40th-ranked Ernests Gulbis on Tuesday. Gulbis cruised past Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-2, 6-2.
Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo used a series of winners to upset former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-0, 6-3. The 76th-ranked Giraldo hit 32 winners to Ferrero's nine, and required only 17 minutes to win the opening set.
Sam Querrey of the United States lost to Julien Bennetau of France 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (2). Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany stopped Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-4 and will play four-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal.
In other matches, Italian wild card Paolo Lorenzi rallied to beat 31st-ranked Albert Montanes 2-6, 6-4, 6-3; wild card Potito Starace of Italy dismissed Czech qualifier Jan Hajek 6-2, 6-2; and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain beat Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2, 6-2.