Shahar Peer 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
PARIS – Shahar Pe’er got her Roland Garros campaign off on the right foot on Tuesday, but Dudi Sela was sent packing after just one match.
Pe’er, seeded 18th in the tournament, had little trouble on her way to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over qualifier Nuria Llagostera Vives (205) and told The Jerusalem Post how confident she is feeling at the moment.
“I started the year very well and I’m playing really good tennis,” she said.
“I’m doing well in the big tournaments and I’m beating a lot of big names. I think I’ve proved a lot and I’m coming to this tournament feeling very confident.”
Sela, seeded at No. 61, on the other hand, entered the French Open with very little expectations, and it was anything but a surprise that he was ousted by Jurgen Melzer (27) in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 straight-set defeat.
“I like everything about the Roland Garros except playing here,” Sela told the Post
with a smile.
“I’m happy the clay-court season is over. I never expect anything from myself on the clay. I came here a week early to train, but I didn’t compete in any warm-up events.”
After a nervy first game, Pe’er seized complete control of the encounter, winning the first four games before holding serve convincingly in the seventh to clinch the first set.
The diminutive Spaniard put up more of a fight in the second set, but Pe’er broke in the sixth game and remained comfortably in front on her way to a second-round meeting against lucky-loser Bethanie Mattek-Sands (124), who surprised Vania King (69) 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday.
Pe’er improved to 16-0 for the year against players ranked outside the world’s top-50 on Tuesday, but she is not taking anything for granted ahead of her match against Mattek.
“Whenever you face a lower ranked player they are very motivated to surprise you,” said the 23-year-old, who missed last year’s French Open through injury.
“But I can’t think of all the stats. All of these players are good and there are always surprises in tennis and I need to just take it one match at a time.”
Despite being the clear favorite, Pe’er was just happy to get through the first round.
“The only thing you care about in the first round is winning,” she said. “I was a little nervous at the start, but I’m playing at a good level at the moment and I just need to continue this way.”
Pe’er also spoke of the progress she has made with coach Pablo Giacopelli since the two teamed up late in 2008.
“We have been building my tennis slowly from the base and everything is going well now,” she said. “These days I just try to play my game in most matches. I think I’m already a very good player and I can trust my game and be very aggressive.”
Sela never really found his footing against Melzer and was always
heading towards a loss after dropping a tight first set. The Austrian
was also playing far from his best, but it was more than enough to get
the better of the Israeli.
Despite the disappointing defeat,
Sela will not be leaving Roland Garros just yet. Sela is playing
doubles with Yoni Erlich, with the Israelis to face Sebastian Prieto
and Kristof Vliegen in the first round.
“I didn’t really want to
play doubles with Yoni, but he couldn’t find another partner with whom
he would have automatically advanced to the main draw,” Sela revealed.
“I think we can make a pretty good team. I have no expectations from
the doubles, but I don’t want to disappoint Yoni.”