Former men’s and women’s World No.1 duo brush aside challenge to seal berth in the thrird round
Paris : Roger Federer advanced to the third round of the French Open on Wednesday as Maria Sharapova brushed aside fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko to also reach the last 32.
Swiss second seed Federer beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 in front of a packed crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen that included Angus Young, the guitarist of veteran Australian rock band AC/DC.
Federer got the job done in one hour, 47 minutes, although he was broken twice and his opponent made life tough in the second set in particular.
The 2009 champion eventually came through a tiebreak before running away with the third set and will now meet Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia, who knocked out experienced Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis for a spot in the last 16.
When asked about the presence of Young among the crowd on a sun-drenched Paris day, Federer said: “I have seen them twice in concert. Once when I was 15 and I even met him.
“I still had long hair at the time. I don’t know if he remembers. It is a real pleasure to see him here.” Sharapova, who was also champion at Roland Garros in 2012 and runner-up in 2013, defeated Diatchenko 6-3, 6-1 in the first match on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a clash with former finalist Samantha Stosur in the third round.
The second seed exchanged breaks with her Fed Cup teammate early on but went on to win the opener 6-3, Diatchenko double-faulting on set point. Sharapova then broke right at the start of the second set to lead 2-0, and although Diatchenko saved a first match point to pull it back to 5-1, she could not stop her more illustrious compatriot closing out the match in the following game.
Stosur of Australia, the runner-up in 2010 who is seeded 26th this year, breezed past French wildcard Amandine Hesse 6-0, 6-1 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Stosur and Sharapova also met in the last 16 a year ago, with the Russian prevailing in three sets. “She’s always a tough opponent and loves playing on clay. But I have a good record against her and I hope I can continue that,” said Sharapova — who has been struggling with a cold and once again avoided the traditional on-court interview post-match — of her next opponent.
In other action, Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka, seeded eight, ousted Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and faces Steve Johnson of the United States next.
Kei Nishikori, the fifth seed who was the only one of five Japanese players in the initial men’s draw to have made it through to the second round, eased past Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Next up for Nishikori is Germany’s Benjamin Becker, who eliminated Spain’s 32nd seed Fernando Verdasco, emerging from a marathon fifth set to progress 6-4, 0-6, 1-6, 7-5, 10-8. French 12th seed Gilles Simon gave the locals something to shout about by defeating Martin Klizan of Slovakia 7-5 6-2 6-3. Other women’s seeds to advance early today were Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova, who was a 6-2 6-0 winner against Kurumi Nara of Japan, and Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, seeded 20, who won the first set 6-1 against Daria Gavrilova of Australia before her opponent retired injured and in tears.
Last year’s beaten women’s finalist Simona Halep, seeded three, was in action later against Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Meanwhile, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller and Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi waited to recommence their match, which was suspended due to darkness on Tuesday evening at the start of the fifth set, with the prize on offer a second-round meeting with Djokovic. —AFP