Defending champion Serena Williams overcame an error-strewn start yesterday to join her sister Venus and former winner Roger Federer in the second round of the French Open.
Williams beat French wild card Alize Lim, 6-2, 6-1 on the main Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris, shortly after Venus eased past Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 6-1 on the Court Suzanne Lenglen. Federer fired 40 winners past Lukas Lacko at the French Open, his first win as a father of four.
“It wasn’t easy playing against a friend,” the top-seeded Williams of the U.S. told the crowd in French in a court-side interview. The 32-year-old often squealed and berated herself as she made 36 unforced errors, three times more than her 138th-ranked opponent. Lim, 23, failed to take advantage of the American’s unease.
Earlier in the day, the fourth-ranked Federer of Switzerland outplayed Lacko of Slovakia from the start, moving into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win.
“It was important for me to attack and stay aggressive,” Federer said in a court-side interview. “I played well in my service games.”
Federer occasionally swore at himself after making an error despite dominating Lacko with ground strokes and the occasional serve-and-volley combination.
The 32-year-old, one of 38 men over the age of 30 to start in the men’s singles draw in Paris, and his wife Mirka had a second set of twins earlier this month. Twin boys Leo and Lenny were born on May 7, shortly after Federer pulled out of the Madrid Masters. Federer, the winner of a men’s record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, has played every major since 2000. Federer and his wife, herself a former tennis pro, had twin girls, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, in July 2009.
Federer, who was beaten in the quarterfinals last year by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, made the finals of Monte Carlo on clay earlier this season, losing to compatriot Stan Wawrinka. Federer came to Rome a week after the birth of his twin boys, and lost in the opening round to France’s Jeremy Chardy. The last of Federer’s 12 clay-court titles dates back to Madrid in 2012.
Serena Williams, who is one major title shy of tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova’s 18 Grand Slam singles championships, may face Venus in the third round. Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion, had no trouble against Bencic as she blasted 21 winners past the 17-year-old.
“I played her two years ago, she’s improved so much since then, she’s extremely talented,” Venus, 33, said about Bencic, one of the rising stars of women’s tennis who is coached by Melanie Molitor, the mother of former top-ranked Swiss player Martina Hingis.
John Isner, the highest-seeded American in the men’s singles draw at No. 10, beat French Grand Slam debutant Pierre-Hughes Herbert, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 7-5.
Roland Garros is the least successful major for U.S. men, with Andre Agassi’s 1999 victory the last singles title for the country’s men. The last time an American male played in the second week of the French Open was in 2010, when Robby Ginepri reached the fourth round. Ginepri may not get this far this year as he’ll face eight-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain today.
Also today, former champion and last year’s runner-up Maria Sharapova plays fellow Russian Ksenia Pervak, while Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the second seed, faces Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
In yesterday’s early matches, the third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland opened the tournament by beating Zang Shuai of China, 6-3, 6-0. Canada’s Milos Raonic, the No. 8 seed, defeated Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed from the Czech Republic, also moved into the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win against Canada’s Peter Polansky.
Tsonga, the 13th seed, beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-2.