AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
PARIS: Roger Federer set a new record of 234 Grand Slam match wins today to reach the French Open last 32 where he was joined by top seed Novak Djokovic whose date with tennis destiny edged a little closer.
Federer, the third seed, overcame a mid-match wobble to beat Romania’s Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, and go past Jimmy Connors’ long-standing record of 233 wins at the majors which he’d equalled in the first round. The 16-time Grand Slam title winner will face either Slovakia’s Martin Klizan or Nicolas Mahut of France for a place in the last 16.
The 27-year-old Ungur, the world No 92, knocked out Argentine veteran David Nalbandian in the first round on his Grand Slam debut, having failed to qualify for any major on 13 previous occasions. He was swept aside on the first two sets today, but once he had saved two match points in the third set tiebreaker, he came alive to take the second round clash to a fourth set.
But normal service was soon resumed with Federer, playing in his 50th straight Grand Slam event, taking the match when Ungur slapped a backhand return wide.
Djokovic edged closer to Grand Slam history with a 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 win over Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic. The world No 1, bidding to become only the third man after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, put down a gutsy challenge from world No 99 Kavcic. Djokovic fired 41 winners past the Slovenian, taking victory on a fourth match point, to set up a clash with French Nicolas Devilder, the world No 286, for a place in the last 16.
Argentine ninth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, the only man outside of Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal to have won a major in the last seven years, made the last 32 with a 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-4 win over France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Del Potro, battling a knee injury and who had to call the trainer onto the court for the second match in a row, faces Croatian 21st seed Marin Cilic for a place in the last 16. Cilic put out 2003 French Open winner and former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-3.
On the women’s side of the draw, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur moved closer to a potential quarter-final showdown with both coasting to straight sets wins as the second round got underway.
Top-seeded Azarenka of Belarus defeated German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1, 6-1 while Australian sixth seed Stosur saw off Irina Falconi of the United States 6-1, 6-4. It was a very different showing from the world No 1 compared to her first round struggle when she stared defeat in the face at a set and 4-0 down against Italy’s Alberta Brianti before clawing her way back to win.
Other early qualifiers for the third round were 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia who beat Vania King of the United States 6-0, 6-2 and Italian 21st seed Sara Errani who ousted America’s Melanie Oudin 6-2, 6-3. One seed to fall, however, was 31st seed Zheng Jie of China who went down 6-2, 6-4 to Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada who goes on to play top seed Azarenka in the third round.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams suffered an historic Grand Slam defeat in the French Open first round on Tuesday, the worst of her career. Former champion and fifth seed Williams bowed out in a three-set shocker to 111th-ranked home hope Virginie Razzano in the pair’s first meeting which the Frenchwoman clinched 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in 3hr, 03min.
Serena’s loss constituted a first ever opening round Grand Slam loss for the 30-year-old holder of an WTA Tour-leading 13 major titles for players still active, in this her 47th appearance at a major. Her previous worst Slam showing had been a second round loss to her sister Venus on her 1998 debut at the Australian Open.