PARIS – Top-seeds Roger Federer and Serena Williams both advanced to the second round at Roland Garros in straight sets on Monday, but the drama of the day was provided by Andy Murray.
The British firebrand, seeded number 4 in the tournament, came back from two sets down to defeat much-loved Frenchman Richard Gasquet 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in four hours and four minutes.
It was so very nearly a fairytale victory for Gasquet. The 23-year-old, who missed the French Open last year while serving a 2 1/2 month suspension after testing positive for cocaine, controlled Monday’s match for the first two sets and was ideally placed to record the upset.
However, the Frenchman ran out of steam in the third set and there was little doubt Murray would go on to complete his comeback after Gasquet needed a massage on his left thigh ahead of the fifth set.
Murray, who also rallied from two sets down to beat Gasquet at Wimbledon in 2008, faces another tough match in the second round where he faces Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.
World No. 1 Federer, meanwhile, encountered little trouble on his way to the second round. The Swiss master steamrolled Peter Luczak 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in 1 hour and 48 minutes.
“I started well and I could relax,” Federer said. “It’s always important coming back as defending champion trying to get off to a good start. It was like a perfect match to get off the French Open campaign, really.”
The top-ranked Federer committed only 11 unforced errors, lost just 14 of 64 points on his serve and faced only one break point.
This is only the second time in nine years that Federer has arrived in Paris without a title during the clay season. But the 16-time Grand Slam champion showed no signs of vulnerability against Luczak, an Australian who fell to 0-4 at the French Open.
Williams got off to a slow start in her match against Stefanie Voegele, but she erased three break points late in the first set before going on to win 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Williams, who had lost two of her past three matches heading to Roland Garros, used her serve and aggressive returns to pull out the first set. She hit three service winners late in the tiebreaker and finished with 10 aces.
Williams said she was displeased with her performance but declined to discuss specifics.
“I definitely didn’t feel good about it,” she said. “At least I won. I think I’m still in the tournament; that’s what matters.”
The 12-time Grand Slam champion seeks her second French Open title and her first since 2002.
No. 3-seeded Novak Djokovic, a two-time semifinalist, beat Evgeny Korolev 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. France’s Gael Monfils (13), who could face Federer in the fourth round, progressed with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over Dieter Kindlmann.
In women’s play, No. 3-seeded Caroline Wozniacki eased past Alla Kudryavtseva 6-0, 6-3. No. 5 Elena Dementieva, No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska and 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic also won.
With temperatures around the 30 degrees Celsius mark for a second successive cloudless day in Paris, Federer lost his cool for only a moment. Speaking to the chair umpire in French and wagging his index finger, he disputed a line call on a Luczak serve, then waved his arms in disgust as he walked back to the baseline.
A double-fault by Luczak moments later ended the first set, and the
match then became a clinic, with a relaxed Federer putting his vast
repertoire of shots to full use.
On one point he started behind the baseline, sprinted to chase down a
drop shot near the net post, slid into his forehand and flicked it from
ankle level crosscourt for a winner. He ended a long rally with a sliced
backhand that carried so much spin it bounced back toward the net for
another winner, and he raised a finger to acknowledge the cheers.
“If it was anyone else, I’d be getting pretty angry,” Luczak said. “He
just had me on a string and just [was] toying with me at the end. I
think he was enjoying it.”
On match point, Federer leaned into a backhand and pulled it at an
improbable angle for one last winner, prompting a final “Ahhhhh” from
the crowd.AP contributed to this report.