Novak Djokovic's bid for an historic grand slam enjoyed the perfect French Open start as Roger Federer celebrated his 50th straight major with a record-equalling 233rd major win.
Djokovic, bidding to become only the third man to hold all four majors at the same time, and the first in 43 years, eased past Italian claycourt specialist Potito Starace 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-1.
The world number one already has the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open crowns under wraps and a first French Open triumph in two weeks' time would make him the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the sweep.
Instead of trying to deflect all the pressure and attention that has been building up towards his title bid, Djokovic chose to embrace a sentiment voiced by tennis great Billie Jean King.
"Pressure is always present, and the way I look at it, it is a privilege and it's a challenge," said Djokovic, who next faces Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, who defeated Lleyton Hewitt.
"So you need to try to understand and learn how to deal with it, and if you feel pressure, that means that you're doing something that is right.
"So I'm happy -- I'm happy to be where I am at this moment."
Djokovic has yet to reach a Paris final, having fallen three times at the semi-final stage.
This year, he is scheduled to meet Federer in the last four but is taking a down-to-earth approach to his quest.
"It doesn't give me an extra negative pressure. I really think it's a challenge and something to embrace and to enjoy," he said.
"I'll try to go step by step."
Federer, the 2009 champion and four times runner-up to Rafael Nadal, endured few problems getting past Germany's Tomas Kamke, the world number 78, winning 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.
The win, achieved on a sixth match point, took him level with Jimmy Connors' 30-year-old record of 233 grand slam match wins.
The victory was also Federer's 50th at Roland Garros having made his debut as a wildcard in 1999 where he went down to Pat Rafter in the first round.
Since that time, he has missed just one grand slam - the 1999 US Open where he failed to qualify.
"It's a big record. Jimmy is obviously one of the greats of all time, and was around for 20 years," said the 16-time major title winner ahead of his next match against Romanina Adrian Ungur, who stunned David Nalbandian 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.
"I have been so successful for such a long time and to already tie that record which is 30 years old is pretty incredible," Federer added.
Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych reached the second round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win over Israel's Dudi Sela.
Berdych will next meet France's Michael Llodra, who eliminated Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
The only other seed to exit was Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who retired at 5-0 down to France's Florent Serra.
Big serving seeds John Isner (10) and Milos Raonic (19) both progressed in straight sets along with Andreas Seppi (22), who took out Russian Nikolay Davydenko.
Serbian 28th seed defeated Brazilian Tomaz Belluci 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to make the second round.
AFP/ReutersTags: tennis, sport, france First posted May 29, 2012 06:26:02