Something less than 1-derful
PARIS -- With his match still irritatingly on serve 10 games into the opening set at Roland Garros, Roger Federer summoned a spark from the heat of his foul mood.
He had a set point against Peter Luczak's and was looking at a second serve. But after that offering and the subsequent volley were called in, Federer strode to the service box and carved a semicircle around the offending mark. He believed that the first set was his because of a double fault, but chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph thought otherwise.
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Federer spent the next few minutes detailing his displeasure, and you couldn't help but feel that in this John McEnroe-inspired moment, he was reaching for some fire.
He eventually found it, winning the set (on an official double fault) and rolling 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 over the 30-year-old Pole turned Aussie. Federer's first French Open title defense, after that sticky start, is now under way.
"The beginning obviously is always important coming back as defending champion, and trying to get off to a good start," Federer said. "It was like a perfect match to get off the French Open campaign, really."
Serena Williams, who is the top seed on the women's side and also has one Roland Garros title on her résumé, suffered a little more turbulence. She needed a tiebreaker to ease past Stefanie Vogele of Switzerland 7-6 (2), 6-2.
"I definitely didn't feel good about it," a humbled Serena said. "At least I won. I think I'm still in the tournament."
It has been a typically disjointed season for Williams. She won the Australian Open in January, beating Justine Henin in the final, then disappeared from the circuit for three months, citing an injured left knee. In the meantime, she visited Kenya and opened a second school for children in Makueni, which is southeast of Nairobi. She was seen out and about at her hometown tournament in Miami and has tweeted incessantly.
Need the scores from any match played in today's French Open? Results
Earlier this month, Williams returned to the court, reaching the semifinals in Rome before falling to Jelena Jankovic. She won only one match in Madrid, losing to Nadia Petrova in the round of 16. And yet, because no one has matched Rafael Nadal's dominance on the women's side, she is ranked among the favorites here, along with Henin, whom she would meet in the quarterfinals.
Serena, the 2002 champion, hasn't been past the quarterfinals here in the past six years, so projecting her directly into the quarters might be dicey, considering that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Shahar Peer and Marion Bartoli conceivably could beat her.
Federer, too, has had a herky-jerky 2010.
Like Serena, he disappeared after winning the Australian Open -- trouble was he continued to play tennis. He lost to Marcos Baghdatis at Indian Wells, Tomas Berdych in Miami, Ernests Gulbis in Rome and then Albert Montanes in Estoril. He went 5-4 against players who several years ago probably wouldn't have beaten him.
Then, of course, Federer -- facing a Grand Slam wake-up call -- nearly ran the table in Madrid, losing to Rafael Nadal in the final, 4-6, 6-7 (5). He seems to have perfected his system for peaking at the majors; he's won four of the past Grand Slam singles events and 16 of 27 overall.
Murray steps on the Gas
He was tired coming in, having won the tournament at Nice, but not as exhausted as he was after going more than four hours against Andy Murray.
Richard Gasquet, the longtime French favorite, ran out to a two-set lead, then slowly, horribly collapsed. The final score: 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. The crowd at Court Suzanne Lenglen, so giddy in the early going, went as flat as Gasquet, who called for the trainer on several occasions.
Gasquet has now lost nine of his past 10 five-set matches -- this from a man whose trainer was boasting before the event that Gasquet actually works out during tournaments, not just between them.
3 Things I KNOW I think
With apologies to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, here are three observations from Day 2 at Roland Garros.
1. Kei Nishikori is back: He blew onto the tennis landscape early in the 2008 season, winning the title at Delray Beach -- in only his sixth ATP event. The native of Shimane, Japan, was only 18 years and 1 month old -- the youngest player to win an ATP title since Lleyton Hewitt (16) in 1998. And then he fell to No. 420 in the world. Nishikori has been reduced to playing Challengers this year, so it was nice to see him qualify his way into the draw and then win a first-round match over Santiago Giraldo, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-4. The comeback required 3 hours, 36 minutes. Afterward, he was surrounded by Japanese photographers and interviewed for television.
2. Lucie Safarova is hot: In a tennis sort of way. The 23-year-old from the Czech Republic hammered Jelena Dokic 6-2, 6-2 in her first-round match. She reached the quarters in three straight events -- Stuttgart, Rome and Madrid -- and has now won 10 of her past 13 matches.
3. The ball is absolutely flying here: And that's good for the big-hitting Americans -- until the rain and cold arrive Tuesday.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Too much court time?
When Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from last week's tournament in Warsaw with an ankle injury, a lot of people in and out of the sport wondered why she bothered to play at all.
After all, she's ranked No. 3 in the world and is the only teenager (19) ranked among the Sony Ericsson WTA top 25.
Her right ankle was first tweaked in Charleston, when she retired in the semifinals against Vera Zvonareva. Still, Wozniacki continued to play -- mostly poorly. She lost five of seven matches, including the retirement in Poland.
The ankle looked fine in Monday's 6-0, 6-3 first-round win over Alla Kudryavtseva, and she said as much afterward. Actually, Wozniacki said more when the subject of her heavy playing schedule came up.
"There are some rules on the WTA Tour, and you have to follow those rules," Wozniacki said. "Maybe it would have been better if I would have taken a few weeks off, but those are the rules, so I did what I had to do."
Why not accept the lost paycheck and risk a fine?
"It's not just a fine," Wozniacki said. "It's also commitment tournaments, zero-pointers. If you read the rules, you'll know. I think maybe we should talk about other things. About my match today, maybe."
According to the WTA, Wozniacki is far and away the busiest player since the beginning of the 2009 season. She has played 125 matches (34 this year already), followed by Flavia Pennetta (115), Elena Dementieva (103) and Jelena Jankovic (100).
Scouting the Americans
U.S. mettle count: 6
Day 2 American win total: 4
On Sunday evening, with the light fading fast at 9:37 local time, Michael Yani's dream was deferred.
The 29-year-old Duke alumnus had held match points in the fifth set against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia but couldn't convert, and now he would have to return on Monday in search of his first victory at the ATP level with the score tied at 8-all.
"This is torture," said his mother, Nancy, as the players warmed up on Court No. 17. "This would mean the world to him. He's never been one to get the wild cards. What he's done, he's done on his own. That's what makes it sweeter."
Yani, who won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw, came as close as you can come to winning without actually doing so. He couldn't handle a deep forehand from Lacko, and then his backhand sailed long. He lost the match 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 12-10.
The 4-hour, 56-minute match featured 71 contested games, which tied a French Open record that goes back to 1973, when tiebreakers were introduced.
"I'm in the books," Yani said afterward in a bittersweet tone. "To get that close is tough."
Yani held serve in the first 31 games -- a terrific accomplishment on clay -- but was broken at 10-all when Lacko blistered a backhand winner that skipped off the tape.
Although Yani did not add to the U.S. win total, a number of countrymen had better luck.
Mardy Fish defeated Michael Berrer in the fifth set.
"Historically, Americans don't do that great over here -- over the past 10 or eight years -- but I think it's something that we're getting better at," Isner said.
"I think three, four, five people even have the ability of making it to the second week."
"Yeah," Isner said.
Tweet of the Day
"If the courts play quicker i think it will help the Williams sisters as much as anybody in their quest for French Open supremacy." -- Brad Gilbert, former coach of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick