Ivanovic struggles as Federer, Serena wait in the wings
PARIS (AFP) –
Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, struggled into the French Open second round Sunday as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, with 32 Grand Slam singles titles between them, waited to start their campaigns.
Ivanovic, the 14th seed, clinched a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Croatia’s Petra Martic on a chilly Court Philippe Chatrier, where the temperatures hovered just above 10 degrees.
After breezing through the opening set, the 25-year-old Serb saved three set points in the second before Martic, the world 107 who made the last 16 in 2012, levelled the tie.
Ivanovic was 5-0 up in the decider before the nerves set in and she wasted four match points.
However, she settled herself in the ninth game, taking victory after almost two hours when Martic hit long.
She will next face either France’s Mathilde Johansson or Chanelle Scheepers for a place in the last 32.
Italian fifth seed Sara Errani, the runner-up to Maria Sharapova last year, had the honour of being the first player to reach the second round, breezing past Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-2.
Errani needed just 54 minutes to get past world number 86 Rus, who made the fourth round in 2012, but has not won a match on the main tour this year.
The 26-year-old Errani will face either Japan’s Ayumi Morita or highly-rated Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva for a place in the last 32.
“It’s an important tournament, but it’s only one tournament. I just try to concentrate on my tennis and not think about last year,” said Errani.
Federer will begin his 54th consecutive Grand Slam tournament when he faces a Spanish winning machine who, for once, is not called Rafael Nadal.
Federer, the second seed and 2009 Roland Garros champion, takes on qualifier Pablo Carreno-Busta who has made it through qualifying into his maiden Grand Slam draw.
Carreno-Busta, is at 166 in the world having started at 654 in January, an ascent boosted by winning seven Futures events and an astonishing record of 53 wins in 57 matches on the circuit’s third tier of competition.
Women’s top seed, 2002 champion and overwhelming favourite, Serena Williams also features on opening day taking on Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili, the world number 80, who, until Strasbourg last week, had not won a match on the main tour in 2013.
Court Suzanne Lenglen hosts two of the sports ironmen — former world number one and double major winner Lleyton Hewitt and Spanish grinder David Ferrer.
Hewitt, 32, and at 85 in the world, has played just once on clay all season, suffering a first round exit in Houston last month.
The Australian, who first played Roland Garros in 1999, was a quarter-finalist in 2001 and 2004, but faces a tough opener against French 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Fourth-seeded Ferrer, a semi-finalist 12 months ago, plays Marinko Matosevic of Australia.
The 2013 French Open, the second Grand Slam event of the season, is getting underway against a background of dire warnings over its future if ambitious plans to expand and refurbish the cramped Roland Garros site are not approved.
“There is no alternative. Soon the players will not come because they will be better treated elsewhere,” tournament director Gilbert Ysern told AFP.
“If we do not see this work through, we may not necessarily lose the title of a Grand Slam but players may not come.
“These days if an emir offers them a fortune to play an exhibition during Roland Garros, they prefer Roland Garros. But tomorrow? There are plenty of players on the circuit who are young, from countries without much tennis tradition and the legend of Roland Garros means nothing.”