Federer and Nadal move on
On a rainy day in Paris, defending champion and top seed Roger Federer overcame spirited Colombian Alejandro Falla in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round on Philippe Chatrier Court.
With nothing to lose, having never progressed past the second round here in Paris, the No.70-ranked Falla came out firing on all cylinders, more than matching the Swiss from the baseline in the opening games and sending him out wide to retrieve numerous curve balls. Federer took a while to settle into his game against the big-serving lefty, hitting an uncharacteristic 21 unforced errors and staring down five break points in the first set alone. Falla finally broke the world No.1’s serve in the 11th game (and on his fifth break point) after chasing down a Federer drop-shot and then easily passing the stunned Swiss at the net with a forehand down the line.
However his joy was to be short-lived. A spate of costly errors and poor judgement on key points (he converted just one of eight opportunities during the match) gave Federer the break back, together with the momentum needed to close out the tie-break.
“I think he really pushed me to come up with something special, which I couldn’t do in the first set, really. I definitely got a little bit lucky to get out of that one,” said Federer.
After a brief rain delay early on in the second set, Federer took control, closing out the second set 6-2 in 35 minutes.
Federer drew on the advice of his coach – Swiss Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain Severin Luthi – during the rain break. “Well, the first rain delay I was trying to play more aggressive. He convince me that I should do it and try it and come to the net more often and take chances, which I started to do. That’s what worked second set.”
During the next extended rain break, Luthi advised Federer to play more dropshots on the increasingly slow clay court, which he did on key points, seizing an early break in the third set and sealing his third round berth where he will meet either Belgian Olivier Rochus or German qualifier Julian Reister.
“So those were good things he told me. Those little details make a crucial difference,” said the Swiss.
In other men’s matches on Wednesday, No.10 seed Marin Cilic ousted Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 while French No.1 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga annihilated friend and countryman Josselin Ouanna 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour, 19 minutes. No.8-seeded Tsonga sent 41 winners past his opponent, but admitted he would have rather played someone other than his friend. “That’s the way it is. That’s the tournament…I thought I’d have to start playing with a lot of intensity and I grab him by the throat. I didn’t want him to do too much, and frankly it was a good start from my side. I think this weighed a lot on the whole match,” said the Frenchman, who also expressed his disappointment at having to play his first round match on Sunday.
“I had asked not to play on a Sunday, absolutely, because I had practised in such a way that I thought I wanted to play on a Monday or Tuesday, to be totally fit. What really bothered me is that if you look at Murray, if he decides on a day or hour at Wimbledon, nobody’s going to impose anything on him. For Federer in his country it’s the same. In the US, I suppose it’s the same thing for the best American players. I think that Lleyton probably plays in the sun during the Australian Open because he loves the sun and other opponents don’t like the sun. Today we’re in France. I’m French. I’m French No. 1. I would have thought it was legitimate for me to be listened to, that I would be given a choice. They should listen to me when I wanted to play or start.”
Tsonga will be looking to even the score on his next opponent – the winner of the clash between Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Thiemo De Bakker – having lost to the Dutchman in Barcelona and the Spaniard in Madrid so far this season. “When I’m on the court, I can tell you I’ll be looking to take my revenge. I’ll fight on all the points.”
Last year’s finalist (and the only player to have beaten Rafel Nadal at Roland Garros) Robin Soderling gave American Taylor Dent the hiding of his life on Suzanne Lenglen court, triumphing 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 in just one hour, 11 minutes. The fifth-seeded Swede admitted that he was not expecting to win that quickly, nor could he recall any other matches that had lasted just 71 minutes. “Of course I’m feeling good. I won two matches pretty easy in straight sets, and I didn’t have to run for many hours on court so far, so I feel fresh and prepared for next round,” said Soderling, who plays No.29 seed Spaniard Albert Montanes in the third round.