Federer equals Connors Grand Slam record

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PARIS, France, May 28 – Roger Federer kicked off his 50th straight major with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win over Germany’s Tomas Kamke at the French Open on Monday to equal Jimmy Connors’ record of 233 Grand Slam match victories.

Federer, the record 16-time Grand Slam title winner, is now 233-35 lifetime at the majors.

Monday’s win was also his 50th against 12 losses at Roland Garros having made his debut as a wildcard in 1999 where he lost to Australia’s 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.

“I get a great deal of pleasure playing here. When I play well, the numbers come with me. It’s great to have played and won here so often. I hope it continues,” said Federer.

The Swiss star took victory over Kamke on a sixth match point and will next face either David Nalbandian of Argentina or Adrian Ungur of Romania.

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka narrowly avoided becoming the first top seed to lose in the French Open first round on Monday as Roger Federer celebrated his 50th straight major with a record-equalling 233rd Grand Slam win.

World number one Azarenka had to come from a set and 4-0 down to defeat Italian world number 105 Alberta Brianti 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2 and will face German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier for a place in the last 32.

But for much of her rollercoaster 2hr 16min battle with 32-year-old Brianti, who had never won a match in four previous main draw appearances at Roland Garros, Azarenka struggled.

Brianti was on the verge of a 5-0 lead in the second set when Azarenka sent down a second serve ace to stay in contention, the point proving to be the significant moment in the tie.

Australian Open champion Azarenka, who finished with 60 unforced errors, came into Roland Garros nursing a shoulder injury and it appeared that she was heading for a shock exit until she reeled off 12 of the last 14 games.

“I started well but my game just collapsed,” admitted 22-year-old Azarenka, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris.

“I tried to stay concentrated. I don’t know how I got out of it.”

Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Li Na of China advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, a quarter-finalist in 2009.

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