Switzerland's Roger Federer reaches out to return the ball to United States player Sam Querrey during their first round match at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris yesterday. Federer won 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. - AP
Roger Federer made a winning return to the French Open, the only Grand Slam title that has eluded him.
The top-ranked Federer beat Sam Querrey of the United States 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 yesterday in the first round at Roland Garros, where the 12-time major champion is trying to become only the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
Federer was broken once early in the first set, but he managed to win five times on Querrey's serve.
"Once I got settled, I played a little bit better," Federer said. "I was able to create myself a few opportunities against his serve, which was sort of good. ... Give me a few days again to practice, and hopefully, I can play a bit better the next match."
On the women's side, number three Jelena Jankovic and number eight Venus Williams advanced before play was suspended for the day because of rain. Williams joined sister Serena in the second round, but she struggled in the second set before beating Tzipora Obziler of Israel 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
"It's nice to have a quick match but it's nice to have a challenge also," said Williams, who had eight double-faults. "I'm glad at the end that I figured it out."
Played well on clay
Federer has played well on clay this season, despite having already lost seven times this year - more than he lost in the entire season in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
He won his only title of the year on clay in Estoril, Portugal, when Nikolay Davydenko retired from the final with a leg injury. Federer then reached the final at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Hamburg Masters, losing both times to Rafael Nadal.
"I've played well all clay-court season long," Federer said. "Didn't have many hiccups really, and I have plenty of matches. That was my goal as well. By playing Estoril, I was hoping to get that before Paris."
Nadal, who is undefeated at Roland Garros, has also beaten Federer in the last two French Open finals and in the 2005 semi-finals. He was to start his quest for a fourth straight French Open title against Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, but the rain postponed his match until today.
Querrey was making his second appearance at the French Open. He also lost in the first round last year.