CINCINNATI - A weekend title defeat in Canada did not dent the hopes of a resurgent Roger Federer as the world number three keeps to a steady pace in his buildup to the US Open.
The Swiss, who turned 33 last week, said that his 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) finals loss in Toronto to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a disappointment but also a huge chance to gather more information on the current state of his game, which is bolstered by a new racquet.
While the Swiss missed out on his third title of the season after playing in seven finals, he did start putting the pieces in place as he begins as second seed at this week's final US Open tune-up, the Cincinnati Masters.
"I'm overall pretty happy that I made the finals in my first tournament back on hard courts," Federer said after going down to Tsonga. "I had a few tough matches which clearly gave me a lot of information.
"I know what I need to work on the next few days and next few weeks, which is good to know what I need to do other than feeling lost. I wish I could have played a bit better in the final, but the facts were that it was tough for me.
"There were things I could have done better, but overall it was a positive week. I go away from this feeling good about my chances and also at the US Open and for the rest of the season.
"It's another good tournament for me, which I'm happy about."
Federer will be bidding to win his sixth trophy in Cincinnati - where the women are also competing. After a first-round bye he starts in the second round with the winner from Canadian Vasek Pospisil and Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.
Toronto protagonists made their way quickly to Cincinnati for the week of polish on the hardcourt, with Tsonga flying out of Canada on Sunday night with his team to be ready for Monday practice in Ohio.
Federer also had a late afternoon session in the steamy heat which always characterises the week in the midwest.
In first round action Monday, American John Isner redeemed himself after his early exit in Toronto a week ago, with the 11th seed beating Canadian quarter-finalist Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4.
Isner fired 15 aces in his 55-minute win only a few hours after a rainstorm caused flash flooding at the tournament site and left unpaved car parks sinking in mud and grass.
Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo advanced over American Jack Sock 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and Benjamin Becker surprised Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to end a six-match losing streak against the giant Croat.
Australians split the difference with French opponents as Marinko Matosevic exploded in anger during a win over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6 (7/4). The Aussie thought he had won on an ace but the point was over-ruled, prompting the outburst which included cursing and a kick towards a television camera after finally advancing moments after his ace-gone-wrong.
France's Gilles Simon, nursing injury last week, beat Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-2.
In women's opening-round matches, ninth seeded Ana Ivanovic kept her back problem under control to defeat good friend Sorona Cirstea of Romania 6-1, 7-5.
"I was happy, I was a little bit doubtful going on the court considering last few weeks," said the winner, ranked 11th. "I had a little bit struggle with my back, but I was able to move free, especially in the first set, and I played well.
"It was tough playing a good friend of mine. You have to put it aside and try to do the best you can on court."
Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset 11th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3 while number 12 Caroline Wozniacki started with a win over Magdelena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-3. Italian 13th seed Flavia Pennetta beat South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2.
Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine defeated Lauren Davis of the US 6-3, 6-2; China's Zhang Shuai beat British qualifier Heather Watson 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.