Roger Federer made a flawless start to his 16th consecutive Roland Garros campaign, cruising past Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga triumphed in an all-French battle with Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The Swiss has made the most appearances in Paris amongst active players and he certainly proved that he felt at home on Court Philippe Chatrier yesterday.
Cheered on by his wife Mirka and two twin daughters in the stands, Federer was particularly clinical at the net being successful in 16 of the 20 net approaches during the one hour 24 minute first-round encounter.
Contesting in his 58th straight Grand Slam – an Open era record – Federer broke Lacko five times and didn't face a single break point on his serve as he moved on to set up a last-64 meeting with Argentine wildcard Diego Sebastian Schwartzman.
“I’m happy I got off to a good start for the tournament here in Paris,” said the 32-year-old. “There’s always that little bit of feeling that if you don’t feel well, if the opponent plays great, whatever happens so you could lose early.
“So I was happy getting early signs out of the match that I was actually playing well and I was going to get my chances I was looking for. It was a simple, straightforward match. I had everything under control from A to Z.
“On my service games there was never a dangerous moment. It’s always very pleasant to have such a good first round.”
Later on centre court, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga survived a nervy start against Roger-Vasselin and needed 112 minutes to get through the first two sets before shifting gears in the third to wrap up a 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-2.
The No13 seed is the only Frenchman to reach five Grand Slam semi-finals in the Open era – including one in Paris last year – but is not yet confident he can reach that stage again oer the course of the next fortnight.
“I’m not convinced. Not yet," said Tsonga of his chances of reaching the latter stages of the tournament. "And sometimes you’re convinced only when you’ve reached this stage.
“I didn’t have enough confidence, given the matches I had played before, and it’s also the beginning of a Grand Slam. And it’s also because it’s here, it’s Roland Garros, and I want to play well here, of course.
“[There were] many reasons why the beginning of the match this evening was this way. I hope that I’ll change for the following match.”
Over on Court 1, sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych debuted yet another controversial outfit, donning a flower-patterned shirt for his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Canada’s Peter Polansky.
The Czech, who was upset by Gael Monfils in the first round last year, has played every major since his first appearance in the 2003 US Open while Polansky was contesting his first Grand Slam since the 2010 US Open.
Other action saw Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny recover from two sets down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0 in the fifth while America’s John Isner took out local wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-5.
“I’m rather satisfied,” said Herbert, following a match in which he hit 11 aces to Isner’s 23. “I felt like this was an extraordinary moment. I’ve never been through anything like that.”
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