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Rediff.com  » Sports » Federer, Nadal make winning starts

Federer, Nadal make winning starts

May 25, 2009 23:01 IST

Roger Federer erased miserable memories by gliding into the second round of the French Open with a clinical 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Spaniard Alberto Martin on Monday.

The last time Federer had stepped on Philippe Chatrier Court, he was on the receiving end of a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 mauling by his nemesis Rafael Nadal in the final 12 months ago.

On Monday, he refused to cast his mind back to that black day in his illustrious career and instead focused on breaking down his opponent's resistance.

"I didn't even think about last year's match on the same court because I was so much concentrated," said the Swiss world number two, who is seeking to win the Roland Garros title to complete his collection of grand slam titles.

"I wanted to do my best. I didn't want to lose my first match."

Federer said his claycourt form this season, during which he has reached the semi-finals in Rome and beat Nadal to win his first title of the year in Madrid, has given him the belief that he can win in Paris.

"The (2008) final was very difficult. It was the very last match. But what counts is how you played after in Madrid, Monte Carlo and Rome and on clay surfaces, and what you look at is the matches you've won," said Federer, who has been left clutching the runner-up tray in Paris for the past three years.

"If you've lost, okay, no problem, because between then and now, you have played something like 60 matches, so that was okay today for me."

On Monday there was no danger of Federer being humiliated by an opponent who had snatched just one game off the Swiss in their only previous meeting.

After dropping his opening service game, Federer conjured a endless stream of glorious winners and he drew gasps of admiration from the capacity crowd as he stroked an exquisite drop shot to conclude a straightforward victory.

"I'm happy I got to learn how to use the dropshot over the years," said Federer, who is one major title away from equalling Pete Sampras's overall record of 14.

"I used to not be a fan of the dropshot at all. I always thought it was a shot you only hit when you're panicking from the baseline, when you're scared maybe to take on the fight.

"Today I realised that actually you can use it to your advantage against like players like Martin. It just makes it a little bit more easy.

"I'm happy to be through without a fright.

The 27-year-old Swiss will next face Argentine grinder Jose Acasuso.

Nadal hobbles past Daniel

World number one Rafael Nadal started his bid for a fifth consecutive French Open title by labouring past Brazilian qualifier Marcos Daniel 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

The Spaniard, who is unbeaten at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005, needed two hours and 23 minutes to get past Daniel and set up a second round meeting with either Teimuraz Gabashvili or Igor Kunitsyn of Russia.

Daniel mixed up his game with cunning drop shots to try and unsettle the four-times champion but Nadal stepped up a gear at 7-5, 1-3.

World number 97 Daniel got a break back in the eighth game of the third set but it was the Brazilian's final gasp and Nadal sealed the win on his opponent's serve on his first match point.

Instead of quizzing Nadal about the problems he faced in the first two sets, the question on the everyone's lips was why the the Spaniard chose to wear a pink shirt on Centre Court for his 29th consecutive win at Roland Garros.

Roddick snaps first-round losing run

Andy Roddick overcame a psychological block when he clambered into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over French wildcard Romain Jouan.

The American sixth seed had not made it past the first round since 2005 and with only one win on red dirt this season, few would have been surprised if Roddick had already booked his flight out of Paris.

But he made sure he would have a chance prolonging his stay at Roland Garros, where he has reached the third round only once, by eclipsing the 305th-ranked Jouan.

Roddick will next face Spain's Oscar Hernandez or Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic.

Safina dismantles Keothavong

World number one Dinara Safina opened her quest for a maiden grand slam title with a 6-0, 6-0 demolition of Britain's Anne Keothavong.

The Russian, who lost to Serb Ana Ivanovic in the final last year, will take on compatriot Vitalia Diatchenko for a place in the third round.

The 23-year-old Safina played with the urgency of a woman late for a lunch appointment as she ruthlessly dismantled Keothavong in 61 minutes on Centre Court.

But the performance failed to impress her coach.

"I guess I could serve a little bit better and hit the balls a little harder, especially in that love game, 5-0 (in second set), when I pushed a few shots he was angry," Safina, who has been beaten on clay just once this season, told reporters.

"He said, 'What's this at 5-0? Hitting the ball. You have to hit it.' Just simple things."

Safina shrugged off a couple of break points in the third game of the opening set with two stunning crosscourt backhand winners and never looked back.

Sharapova advances

Russian Maria Sharapova shrilled her way into the second round with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus.

The former world number one, who dropped to 102nd in the WTA rankings being out of action for nine months because of a shoulder injury, needed a set to find her range on Court One before cracking winners past the world number 64.

Yakimova called on the tournament's trainer at change of sides at 4-1 in the second set to have her lower back massaged and she never seemed to recover.

Sharapova, who returned to singles play last week at the Warsaw Open where she reached the last eight, will next face 11th-seeded compatriot Nadia Petrova.

Venus stays cool to reach round II

Venus Williams kept a cool head in scorching conditions to reach the second round with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Monday.

The third seed appeared to be in a hurry to get back into the cooler confines of the locker room when she romped through the first set in just 34 minutes.

But Mattek-Sands delayed Williams on court for almost two hours before the 28-year-old sealed victory with a thumping forehand winner.

Williams, who owns seven grand slam trophies but has never triumphed at Roland Garros, will next face either Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic or Germany's Sabine Lisicki.

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