Friday, June 1, 2012

Federer captures Connors' grand slam mark

Updated May 31, 2012 08:37:15

Roger Federer set a new record of 234 grand slam match wins to reach the French Open last 32 where he was joined by top seed Novak Djokovic whose date with tennis destiny edged a little closer.

Federer, the third seed, overcame a mid-match wobble to beat Romania's Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, and go past Jimmy Connors' long-standing record of 233 wins at the majors which he had equalled in the first round.

The 16-time grand slam title winner will face Nicolas Mahut of France for a place in the last 16.

Reflecting on his achievement, painful memories of earlier visits to Roland Garros came flooding back to Federer.

"In the beginning, when you think you're good but maybe you're not that good yet, you get many surprise losses," he said.

"They hurt you. I have had a few here - against Arazi (2002), Horna (2003). Against Gustavo Kuerten (2004, third round), I was the favourite. I thought his hip wasn't good and he came off a five-setter and I lost in straight sets."

The 27-year-old Ungur, the world number 92, knocked out Argentine veteran David Nalbandian in the first round on his grand slam debut, having failed to qualify for any major on 13 previous occasions.

He was swept aside in the first two sets, but once he had saved two match points in the third set tie-breaker, he came alive to take the second round clash to a fourth set.

But normal service was soon resumed with Federer, playing in his 50th straight grand slam event, taking the match when the colourfully tattooed Ungur slapped a backhand return wide.

"Instead of being aggressive I let him show me what he could do," Federer said of the lost match points.

"He played two beautiful shots and he played very well."

2004-2008 (237 weeks) (record)

Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion Djokovic edged closer to history with a 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 win over Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic.

The world number one, bidding to become only the third man after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time, put down a gutsy challenge from world number 99 Kavcic.

Djokovic fired 41 winners past the Slovenian, taking victory on a fourth match point, to set up a clash with French qualifier Nicolas Devilder, the world number 286.

"I gave him the opportunity to come back after I had had a perfect first seven games," said Djokovic.

"But I expected him to fight. He had nothing to lose and he showed his fighting qualities."

Argentine ninth seed Juan Martin Del Potro, the only man outside of Djokovic, Federer and Rafael Nadal to have won a major in the last seven years, clinched a 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4 win over France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Del Potro, battling a knee injury, and who had to call the trainer onto the court for the second match in a row, next faces Croatian 21st seed Marin Cilic.

"The knee always worries me but I try not to think about it on the court. I get treatment and then do all I can just to get ready for my next match," said the 2009 US Open winner and a semi-finalist in Paris in 2009.

Cilic eliminated 2003 French Open winner and former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3.

Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2010, eased into the third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over France's Michael Llodra.

He next faces South Africa's 31st seed Kevin Anderson who defeated Argentine qualifier Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0.

American wildcard Brian Baker, who was playing in a grand slam event for the first time since 2005 after undergoing five surgeries and working as a college coach, saw his run come to an end.

Gilles Simon, the 11th seeded Frenchman, ousted world number 141 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 1-6, 6-0.

Simon, who has to get beyond the fourth round in Paris, will tackle Swiss 18th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Spain's Pablo Andujar 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1, for a place in the last 16.

Heavy rain brought an early finish to the day with three singles still to be completed.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted May 31, 2012 06:20:08

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