French Open looks to Federer-Nadal showdown

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 23 (AFP) - World number one Roger Federer and Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a titanic French Open semi-final showdown with easy first round wins on the opening day of the 2005 championships on Monday.

PARIS, May 23 (AFP) - World number one Roger Federer and Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a titanic French Open semi-final showdown with easy first round wins on the opening day of the 2005 championships on Monday.  

Top seed Federer, looking to become just the sixth man to win all four Grand Slams, brushed aside Israeli qualifier Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 while 18-year-old Nadal, hoping to be the first man in 23 years to win the title on his debut, saw off Germany's Lars Burgsmuller 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.  

Federer has never got beyond the quarter-finals here in six previous attempts but on Monday he had far too much class for 20-year-old Sela, ranked 264 in the world and playing the first tour match of his career.  

"I had been waiting impatiently for this match," said Federer who has now won 42 of his 44 matches in 2005.  

"I had a lot of problems in the beginning but then I got into my stride."  

The Swiss star admitted that Nadal is one of the most serious threats here to his hopes of adding the Roland Garros crown to his four other Grand Slam titles.  

"He was born playing on clay and this tournament is his best chance of winning a Grand Slam. He has a great future ahead of him."  

Federer next plays either Spain's Nicolas Almagro or Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany for a place in the third round.  

Nadal, playing in his first Roland Garros, is looking to emulate Swedish great Mats Wilander who clinched the title on his Roland Garros bow in 1982.  

Nadal showed no signs of first day nerves against the journeyman Burgsmuller, winning in 1hr 45mins to set up a second round clash against Belgium's Xavier Malisse.  

The muscular fourth seed, playing in his now customary three-quarter length trousers, was forced to miss the 2003 French Open because of an elbow injury and then had to sit out the 2004 event due to a stress fracture in his left ankle.  

He has spent the spring constantly playing down talk of being the favourite here despite clinching five clay court titles already this year, but he hammered home his credentials again on Monday notching his 18th win in a row.  

Also making the second round were 14th seed, and 1998 champion, Carlos Moya of Spain, Mario Ancic, the 18th seed from Croatia, Czech 16th seed Radek Stepanek and France's Sebastien Grosjean, the 23rd seed.  

In the women's event, top-seed Lindsay Davenport and twice runner-up Kim Clijsters carried their battered bodies into the second round shrugging off fears that recent injuries might curtail their progress.  

American Davenport, hit by a hip injury last month, overcame a shaky start to see off Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 while Clijsters, playing with her right knee heavily strapped, easily saw off American qualifier Meilin Tu 6-1, 6-0.  

Davenport, who has never got beyond the semi-finals here in 11 previous appearances, had to retire from her quarter-final clash with Justine Henin-Hardenne in Charleston five weeks ago.  

The 28-year-old looked rusty in the opening exchanges with Srebotnik on the showcase Philippe Chatrier Court struggling with the blustery conditions.  

But she eventually found her range to win in 1hr 44 minutes and now faces China's Peng Shuai for a place in the third round.  

"It wasn't the best first set," said Davenport. "It wasn't the way I wanted to start, I wasn't ready for the first point.  

"But I found my way back into it midway through the second set and managed to turn it around before it was too late."  

Belgian 14th seed Clijsters, runner-up in 2001 and 2003, had been a doubtful starter here because of the right knee injury she suffered performing her trademark splits Berlin three weeks ago.  

Despite playing with her knee heavily strapped, she showed no ill-effects taking just 48 minutes to demolish the feeble challenge of her 179th world ranked opponent.  

Clijsters now faces either Slovakia's Ludmila Cervanova or Aiko Nakamura of Japan.   Also making the second round was Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 20, who eased past Dutch qualifier Michaella Krajicek 6-3, 6-1.  

Later Monday, both defending champions are due on court.  

Russia's Anastasia Myskina takes on Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo while men's winner Gaston Gaudio of Argentina opens his defence against France's Julien Benneteau.


Subject: French News

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