Federer and Serena state intent


PARIS, May 24 – Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer began his campaign for a 17th Grand Slam title with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over Australia's Peter Luczak in the French Open first round on Monday.Less than two hours later, with Paris temperatures soaring towards 30 degrees, women’s top seed Serena Williams, chasing a 13th major, also made the second round with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 win over Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele.

Federer, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning his first Roland Garros crown here in 2009, will face Colombia’s Alejandro Falla for a place in the last 32.

The Swiss star was barely troubled by the 71st-ranked Luczak, who has never won a match at the French Open in four attempts.

Despite the win, Federer, playing in his 42nd successive Grand Slam event, refused to look forward to a fourth Roland Garros final against old rival Rafael Nadal.

"He’s in great form, but I’m just looking at my draw. The final hasn’t happened yet," said Federer, who has yet to win a claycourt title this season.

The world number one preferred instead to concentrate on negotiating his first match on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"The beginning is always important, coming back as defending champion, and trying to get off to a good start," said Federer.

"It was a good first set for me, without any hiccups on my own serve. After that things were a bit easier. He had to push it a bit more. I could relax and towards the end I played some great dropshots.

"So it was a perfect match to start the French Open."

Meanwhile, Williams, the 2002 champion, showed no ill-effects from the recent knee problems that sidelined her for three months, as she fired 28 winners and 10 aces past Voegele, the world 76.

The American, who collected her 12th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, next faces Julia Goerges of Germany.

Men’s third seed Novak Djokovic, recently laid low by an allergy, overcame a second-set blip to beat Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

The 2008 Australian Open champion, and a two-time French Open semi-finalist, will now meet either Santiago Giraldo of Colombia or Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, the 27th seed, was the day’s biggest early casualty, losing to German qualifier Julian Reister, the world 165, in straight sets.

Seeded players Stanislas Wawrinka — a possible third round opponent for Swiss compatriot Federer — Marcos Baghdatis, John Isner and Tomas Berdych also moved through to the second round.

Caroline Wozniacki, leading the chasing pack in pursuit of the Williams sisters, shrugged off ankle injury concerns to sweep into the women’s second round.

The 19-year-old Dane reeled off the first seven games of the match before clinching a 6-0, 6-3 win over Russian world 78 Alla Kudryavtseva, the 69-minute victory proving a crucial confidence-booster for the third seed.

Wozniacki came into Paris having retired from the Warsaw event last week with a recurrence of the ankle injury that also cut short her Charleston campaign and has cast a shadow over her entire claycourt season.

A second-round loss in Madrid sapped her optimism while also helping Venus Williams displace her as world number two.

Wozniacki, dressed by Stella McCartney and sporting red nail polish, broke Dostoevsky-reading Kudryavtseva three times in the first set, which was wrapped up in 25 minutes.

The Russian, best known for knocking Maria Sharapova out of Wimbledon in 2008, rallied to break at 2-1 in the second set, but Wozniacki hit back immediately before cruising through the rest of the match.

"I just go out there and I want to win. Doesn’t matter if I play five hours or one hour. As long as I win, I’m happy," said Wozniacki.

Safely through also is Chinese number one Li Na, the 11th seed, who defeated last year’s junior champion Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-3, wile Russian fifth seed Elena Dementieva beat Petra Martic of Croatia 6-1, 6-1.

Later Monday, British fourth seed Andy Murray faces a tough opener against France’s flamboyant shot-maker Richard Gasquet.