Federer serves notice, advances at French Open
PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer was all about the serve in his opening match at this year's French Open, and his strategy served him well.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion advanced to the second round without facing a single break point in beating Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
"Important thing from my side was to be solid in my own serve, which I was all the way through from start to finish," the Swiss said. "And I thought I played a good match."
Besides Federer, Novak Djokovic also advanced to the second round. The second-seeded Serb extended his perfect season to 38-0 while improving his winning streak to 40 matches.
For the women, top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Francesca Schiavone made it through.
On Tuesday, five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal is set to face John Isner, while No. 4 Andy Murray continues his chase for a first Grand Slam title with a match against Eric Prodon. Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova are also scheduled to be in action.
Federer completed his career Grand Slam at Roland Garros two years ago but entered the tournament this time without the pressure to win that has dogged him in the past.
That doesn't mean he doesn't expect the best of himself.
"Mentally, I know what I have to do," Federer said. "This is a great match, but also a great tournament, as well. So you have to look at all the facets that come with this, and that's when you have to keep your focus.
"That's when you have to be in the match and start well. Even though you might not start well, do not panic. And this is what I managed to do, because I think Feliciano got off to a very good start during the first set, and that was the key for the match."
If Federer is free of the heavy weight of expectation this year, the opposite can be said of Djokovic.
"Pressure is always there," said Djokovic, who beat Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 a day after turning 24. "I know there is a lot of expectations because of the streak I have, but, look, I'm really happy the way I'm handling things right now on and off the court."
Djokovic needs five more wins to break John McEnroe's Open era record of 42 for the best unbeaten start to a season, and a sixth victory will make him the first man to win the Australian and French Opens back-to-back since Jim Courier in 1992.
The biggest upset of the day involved Tomas Berdych, who last year reached the semifinals at the French Open and the final at Wimbledon. The Czech player was knocked out by 140th-ranked Stephane Robert 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7.
"Maybe it's too early to analyze how was that or what was happening on the court," Berdych said. "That's what can happen in the long matches, and ... sadly it happened to me today."
Wozniacki looked comfortable on court despite playing with a bandage on her left thigh. She won the opening seven games against 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm and eventually advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 victory.
Not a bad win for the 20-year-old Wozniacki, who was born more than a year after Date-Krumm made her French Open debut in 1989.