Federer shines as sun returns at French Open

29th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - Roger Federer's latest bid to add the French Open to his glittering collection of 10 Grand Slam titles got off to a winning start at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - Roger Federer's latest bid to add the French Open to his glittering collection of 10 Grand Slam titles got off to a winning start at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

The world number one beat American journeyman Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in a match which had been held over since Monday, one of many victims of the torrential rain which swamped Paris on the opening two days of the tournament.

Federer led 6-4, 4-1 when play was halted the previous evening, but he took less than 50 minutes to wrap up victory in bright sunshine on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a second round meeting with French wildcard Thierry Ascione.

"The conditions were tough today with the wind and because of the rain over the last few days we haven't had much chance to hit balls," said Federer.

"But I was in a comfortable position today. It was a good opening match for me."  

Spain's Tommy Robredo, the ninth seed and who could face Federer in the quarter-finals, also went through beating Argentina's Sergio Roitman 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Argentina's 19th seed Guillermo Canas, playing here for the first time since serving a 15-month doping ban and who has defeated Federer twice this season, was also a first round winner.

Canas, twice a Roland Garros quarter-finalist, defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

"It's great to be back and playing a Grand Slam after my suspension," said Canas who has battled his way back to 22 in the world after slumping to 514 during his time out.

"I always knew I would play again at a Grand Slam tournament. I just didn't know when. So I'm happy to be able to play at my level again."

Men's seventh seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia also made it safely through with a 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) win over gritty Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

Later Tuesday, double defending champion Rafael Nadal, opens his campaign against highly-rated Argentinian teenager Juan Martin del Potro.

In the women's championship, where prize money matches the men's for the first time, fourth seed Jelena Jankovic, sixth seed Nicole Vaidisova and 13th seed Elena Dementieva all cruised into the second round.

Serbia's Jankovic, buoyed by victory in Rome in the run-up to Roland Garros, eased past France's Stephanie Foretz 6-2, 6-2 while Czech teenager Vaidisova, a semi-finalist in 2006, saw off Switzerland's Emmanuelle Gagliardi 6-4, 6-3.

Russia's Dementieva, the runner-up to compatriot Anastasia Myskina in 2004, was also a comfortable winner beating Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-2.

Jankovic is being talked off as a potential champion at Roland Garros after winning three titles in 2007 and she said she is over the illness which forced her to pull out of the Strasbourg semi-finals last week.

"It was almost 40 degrees there last week and I was throwing up," said the 22-year-old.

"But I'm OK now. Being one of the favourites here doesn't bother me. I just try to give my maximum on court, that's all I care about."

Russian 11th seed Nadia Petrova, a semi-finalist in 2003 and 2005, was knocked out in the first round for the second year in succession, losing 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 to Czech qualifier Kveta Peschke.

Petrova needed treatment on a back injury at the start of the second set and her movement became more restricted as the tie went on.

The 24-year-old, who was forced to pull out of the Italian Open with the same injury, will undergo a scan before making a decision on the forthcoming grass court season.

Last year she missed Wimbledon after injuring her hip on the eve of Roland Garros.  

Dutchman Martin Verkerk, the shock runner-up to Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 but who has slumped to 717 in the world after missing two years with a shoulder injury, couldn't repeat the magic of four years ago.

He slumped to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Italy's Simone Bolelli to leave him still without a victory on the main tour since July 2004.   

Mikhail Youzhny, the Russian 13th seed, was one of four men to benefit from opponents pulling out injured.

He went through to the second round when Jan Hernych suffered lumbago.

Nicolas Lapentti, of Ecuador, and Austrian duo Stefan Koubek and Werner Eschauer also benefitted from truncated afternoons.

Also making the next round were Italian 29th seed Filippo Volandri, who beat Federer in Rome, and top French hope Richard Gasquet, the 11th seed.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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