Davenport struggles, Federer wins

Associated Press

Paris, May 23:

Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport, seeking the only Grand Slam title she has never won, struggled in the first round on Monday at the French Open. Davenport overcame a slow start in the opening match on centre court and beat Katarina Srebotnik 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. With the score 2-all in the second set and Davenport’s errors mounting, it appeared she might become the first top-seeded woman to lose in the opening round at Roland Garros. But the Californian steadied her strokes, began to overpower Srebotnik and won nine games in a row to take control. Two-time French Open runner-up Kim Clijsters won in her first Grand Slam match since January 2004, beating Meilen Tu 6-1, 6-0. Clijsters, out much of last year because of a wrist injury, played with her recently strained right knee wrapped but still advanced in 48 minutes. Advancing in men’s play were Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The top-seeded Federer lost serve twice but still easily beat qualifier Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. Rafael Nadal won his French Open debut, beating Lars Burgsmuller 6-1, 7-6, 6-1. Nadal, seeded fourth, never faced a break point and won his 18th match in a row.

Other winners included No 14 Carlos Moya, No 16 Radek Stepanek, No 18 Mario Ancic and No 23 Sebastien Grosjean. The stands were mostly empty when Davenport took the court on a cool, windy morning. The blustery conditions seemed to bother her at the start, and 27 of the 35 points she lost in the opening set came on unforced errors. Davenport needed 1 hour, 44 minutes, closing out the victory on her fourth match point. Davenport finished with 54 errors, including seven double faults, but also had 47 winners. She improved to 29-4 this year, including titles at Dubai and Amelia Island and a loss to Serena Williams in the final at the Australian Open. Davenport is trying to become the first top-seeded woman to win at Roland Garros since Steffi Graf in 1996, but she isn’t considered one of the favourites. No 19 Shinobu Asagoe and No 20 Daniela Hantuchova were also among the early winners. Asagoe beat Julia Schruff 7-5, 6-2, and Hantuchova defeated Michaella Krajicek 6-3, 6-1. Moya rallied past Alberto Martin 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Stepanek beat Paradorn Srichaphan 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1. Ancic defeated Marcos Daniel 6-2, 6-1, 7-6. Grosjean swept Juan Monaco 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.