Federer canters through first round in Paris

Federer canters through first round in Paris

PARIS - Reuters
Federer canters through first round in Paris

AFP Photo

Roger Federer’s quest for a second French Open title started with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 first-round win against Colombian lucky loser Alejandro Falla on May 24. 

The second-seeded Swiss, who has a record 17 grand slam titles to his name, barely broke sweat in his flashy pink shorts and lilac shirt as he booked a second-round meeting with either Spain’s Marcel Granollers or German qualifier Matthias Bachinger. 

After misfiring a few backhands, Federer, who has not won a  grand slam since Wimbledon in 2012, pocketed the opening set when Falla buried a backhand into the net. 

Federer, who held serve throughout, broke twice in the second, and rounded it off on Falla’s serve when the Colombian failed to return a booming crosscourt forehand.   

Halep says she’s stronger now despite tough opener

Last year’s runner-up Simona Halep huffed and puffed past Russian Evgeniya Rodina to reach the second round with a 7-5 6-4 win as the French Open, but the Romanian was not concerned by a patchy display. 

The third seed was never really threatened but let her guard down too many times for comfort against a willing opponent on a sun-drenched court Philippe Chatrier.

Halep, the top name in action in the women’s draw on day one, broke twice to open a 4-1 lead, only for Rodina to hit back and level at 5-5. 

The Russian let another service game slip from her hands with a double fault and Halep clinched the set with a drop shot. 

She broke decisively in the ninth game of the second set and wrapped it up with an ace. 

“It was a tough match, because it was first round and it is always difficult to start the tournament,” Halep, who lost to Russian Maria Sharapova in last year’s final, told a news conference. 

“But she played well. I (made) easy mistakes, but it’s normal and I accept that. Next round I will be better, for sure.” 

While most of the focus is on Sharapova and top seed Serena Williams, Halep said she is better-equipped to challenge the big two this year, having grown as a player. 

“I’m stronger, I think, mentally, and I’m stronger, as well, on court. I feel stronger -- I have a stronger body and I have improved a lot in my game. Serve is better, so I feel more confident now with my game,” she explained. 

She will next face Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat her in the third round of the U.S. Open last year. 
It will be a different story on the Paris clay, though, according to Halep. 

“I have no good memories from that match, because I didn’t play my match. I just was blocked and I couldn’t hit the ball,” Halep said. “But now I feel much better. I feel that I have my chance.
Japan smashed a record which had stood for almost half a century at the French Open by seeing five men make the first round draw.

Not since 1967 has Japan enjoyed such relative riches in Paris with world number five Kei Nishikori leading the way.

However, the stardust of Nishikori wasn’t immediately rubbing off on his compatriots as the five quickly became four when veteran Go Soeda was defeated 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 by German 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening round.

“I think it’s great for Asia, not only Japan,” said 30-year-old Soeda of Japan’s achievement.

“Five players in the main draw so I think we can be confident. But we have to win the first match or second match. “If I play main draw, I have to win main draw. Nishikori can win this tournament. But other players, we should win the first round,” added Soeda who has never won a main draw match in Paris.

Nishikori, the US Open runner-up last year, plays his first tie of the 2015 tournament later Sunday against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Japan’s other players in the first round are qualifiers Taro Daniel and Yoshito Nishioka who play Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych respectively.

Tatsuma Ito will take on Italy’s Fabio Fognini.