Tennis-Federer equals record with win, Azarenka has close shave

Reuters

Mon, 28 May 16:05:00 2012

Roger Federer's bid for a record 17th major tennis title began with another landmark on Monday, when he won his 233rd match at a grand slam event, equalling the achievement of Jimmy Connors.

Federer beat German Tobias Kamke 6-2 7-5 6-3 in the first round of the French Open and can surpass American Connors's professional-era record by continuing his progress here.

Women's world number one Victoria Azarenka was lucky to advance after being five points away from defeat against Italian Alberta Brianti in their first-round match, but turned the tables to scrape through 6-7 6-4 6-2.

Federer, the 2009 champion at Roland Garros and runner-up four times to Rafa Nadal, hit some wayward shots against the 78th-ranked Kamke but was happy to get through in straight sets.

"They are never easy, those first rounds," the Swiss world number three told a news conference. "I missed a few too many shots but I was in the lead so I could afford to do those."

Asked about matching Connors's record, Federer said he had not been aware of it before the match.

"But I'm very happy, because Jimmy Connors was a huge champion, still is, so it's a great pleasure," he added.

"That (record) is a big one, because (it means) longevity. I have been so successful for such a long time and to already tie that record, (at) 30 years old is pretty incredible, so I'm very happy."

Federer will now meet Romania's Adrian Ungur who beat Argentine David Nalbandian 6-3 5-7 6-4 7-5.

Australian Open champion Azarenka, who would have been the first top-seeded woman to lose in the opening round, hit 60 unforced errors in her two hours 16 minutes on Philippe Chatrier court.

"I think that says it all," the Belarussian said. "Bad days happen."

She was happy, though, that a shoulder injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open nearly two weeks ago had healed.

"It's much better, the pain went away," she said. "But I didn't have much time to prepare."

Defending champion Li Na raced through her opening match, thrashing Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes.

Li, who became the first player from an Asian nation to win a grand slam singles title here last year, said she was still smarting from her narrow defeat by Maria Sharapova in the Italian Open final eight days ago.

"The final in Rome still killing me. After the final I told everyone 'don't talk to me about tennis (for) like three days'," she said.

Fifteenth seed Dominika Cibulkova was also swift in beating French wildcard Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-1 and will play American Vania King in the second round.

Men's world number one Novak Djovokic, who wants the French Open title to complete a sweep of the grand slams, was playing Potito Starace of Italy on Monday, while defending champion Nadal will join the fray on Tuesday.

 

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