No fears for Federer at French Open

29th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Roger Federer got his French Open campaign off to a smooth start on Tuesday by completing a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Michael Russell of the United States.

PARIS, May 29, 2007 (AFP) - Top seed Roger Federer got his French Open campaign off to a smooth start on Tuesday by completing a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Michael Russell of the United States.

The Swiss star had already done most of the hard work on Monday when he raced to a 6-4, 4-1 lead in the first round tie before rain brought an abrupt end to proceedings for the day.

On the resumption, he promptly wrapped up the second set with two quick service games as sunshine at last dappled the Philippe Chatrier centre court and brought some warmth to the long-suffering Parisian crowd.

The fleet-footed Russell stubbornly held his first two service games in the third set but his back was firmly to the wall and it was no surprise when Federer grabbed the final break he needed in the fifth game to move 3-2 ahead.

The American looked deflated and Federer simply had to hold on to his own serve three times which he did without any problem finishing off the tie to love with an under-pressure Russell netting a backhand drive.

"That was the prefect start for me as it was difficult stretching over two days and I had never played against him before," Federer said.

The top seed will next play lowly-ranked Frenchman Thierry Ascione who came through against Croatian teenager Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

Much is at stake for Federer in Paris.

He won the Australian Open in January and victory on the Paris clay in two weeks time would leave him halfway to becoming the first man since Australian legend Rod Laver in 1969 to carry off the fabled Grand Slam of tennis.

It would also make him just the sixth man in history to win all four Grand Slam titles - emulating Don Budge, Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Andre Agassi.

And it would herald his 11th Grand Slam title, just three short of the record of 14 held by Pete Sampras and level with boyhood heroes Laver and Bjorn Borg.

But in the way stands 20-year-old Spanish claycourt maestro Rafael Nadal who has ended the Swiss star's hopes here in the last two years - in last year's final and in the semi-finals the previous year, both times in four sets.

The two have been sparring on European claycourts over the last few weeks with Nadal winning three straight tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before Federer ended his record 81-match winning streak on clay in the final of the Hamburg Masters on May 20.

Nadal was due to open his campaign with a first round tie later in the day against the highly-rated Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at 18 the youngest player in the world top 100.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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