Federer rages at Open's heart of darkness

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 31, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Roger Federer was furious with French Open officials who scheduled his second round match to start and finish in the murky Paris gloom on Wednesday.

PARIS, May 31, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Roger Federer was furious with French Open officials who scheduled his second round match to start and finish in the murky Paris gloom on Wednesday.

The world number one, who needs a Roland Garros title to complete a Grand Slam, rounded off his 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (10/8) over French wildcard Thierry Ascione just before 9:15 pm (1915 GMT) with Court Suzanne Lenglen almost in darkness.

"When we shook hands, I told him I couldn't see him anymore it was so dark," said Federer.

"The conditions were shocking. I know they want to get the matches over and done with but what I don't like is that they know I'm the favourite and they think I should win in straight sets. 'Let's get Roger's match over and done with, then he's happy, he has a day off'.

"But what if it doesn't turn out this way. I would be very upset. I already wasn't happy playing so late.

"I hate playing into dawn. I can hardly see the ball. You start stressing out. I can't believe other players were still playing after me because it was so dark."

Federer was referring to France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin's five-set win over Radek Stepanek which didn't finish until 9:30 pm.

The Swiss star said the situation reminded him of his heartbreaking semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal in 2005 which was played in similar dismal conditions.

On that occasion, Federer wanted the match called off for the day.

"I wanted to stop that match, but there was pressure from the crowd, from television, from my opponent and if you don't agree with your opponent you're stupid."

At one stage on Wednesday, Federer looked as if he would have the match wrapped quickly as he raced into a two-sets lead inside 48 minutes as the world number 168 was outclassed.

But Federer wasted two match points in the ninth game of the third set and three more in the subsequent tiebreak before he managed to move into the third round where he faces Italy's Potito Starace.

Federer, attempting to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 -- and just the third man in history -- to hold all four Grand Slam titles at thesame time, was playing for the third day in a row after rain forced his opening win over America's Michael Russell to start on Monday and finish on Tuesday.

But he showed no signs of fatigue as he swept through the first set in just 22 minutes, allowing the hapless Frenchman just four points on his serve.

The second set was a similar tale.

Ascione, who describes himself as a "miracle man" after escaping death in a road accident last November, won just five points off the Federer serve.

Ascione was broken again in the third game of the third set with Federer setting up the 2-1 lead with a majestic running, backhand pass.

But the 26-year-old French player was determined not to go down without a fight.

He saved two match points in the ninth game which he used as a platform to grab the elusive break before levelling the set at 5-5.

Ascione then saved three more in the tiebreak and even had two set points of his own which would have carried the match over into Thursday.

But Federer recovered his composure to take the tie when Ascione netted a weak forehand.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, French Open, Roland Garros

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