World No. 4 Tomas Berdych eased into the French Open second round yesterday as heavyweights Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray waited to make their Roland Garros bows, but there was more Paris misery for former world No. 2 and Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, who was a shock first-round loser.
Berdych, a 2010 semi-finalist, continued his solid clay-court season with a 6-0, 7-5, 6-3 win over Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, the world No. 146.
The 29-year-old Berdych next faces Davis Cup-winning teammate Radek Stepanek, the oldest man in the draw at 36, for a place in the round-of-32.
“There are still a lot of places to improve, which is good. It is always good to have the first one down and now I’ll just keep focusing on my next opponent,” fourth seed Berdych said.
Stepanek became the oldest man to win a match at Roland Garros since 38-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1991 when he saw off Croatian journeyman Ivan Dodig 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Spanish 11th seed Feliciano Lopez was the biggest men’s casualty so far when he lost to Russian world No. 74 Teymuraz Gabashvili, 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-3.
In the women’s singles, Spanish eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, a quarter-finalist in 2008 and last year, beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-2, but Polish 14th seed Radwanska went down 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 to Germany’s Annika Beck.
The defeat was only the third time in 34 Grand Slam tournaments that 26-year-old Radwanska had lost in the first round.
There were home wins for French 29th seed Alize Cornet, who defeated Roberta Vinci 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 for her first victory over the veteran Italian in five attempts, and wild-card Amandine Hesse, ranked No. 272, who hit back to beat Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Hesse’s reward is a second-round match-up with 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur, the winner at the Internationaux de Strasbourg at the weekend, who defeated Madison Brengle of the US 6-1, 6-3.
Virginie Razzano, playing in her 17th French Open, edged out Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
German 11th seed Angelique Kerber, the champion on clay in Charleston and Stuttgart this season, needed just 50 minutes to make the second round.
Kerber, a quarter-finalist in 2012, brushed aside Timea Babos of Hungary 6-0, 6-1.
Nishioka was one of three Japanese men to lose, leaving only fifth seed Kei Nishikori still involved in the men’s singles.
The left-handed Nishioka, who retired ill in the first round of last year’s US Open in his only previous major appearance, did recover from a disastrous start, though, to put up a spirited fight against the Czech star.
Berdych required less than half an hour to win the opening set, but Nishioka held his serve at the start of the second and even had a break-point opportunity in the following game.
Berdych recovered to hold his serve and eventually claimed the set after 47 minutes, as Nishioka’s fighting performance ultimately proving to be in vain.
Nishioka did not give up, though, saving three break-point chances at the beginning of the third set and coming back to win the game with a delightful lob from the baseline with his opponent stranded at the net, but Berdych’s class told in the end as he converted the first of two match points in the ninth game of the set.
Nishioka admitted the occasion got the better of him in the early exchanges and accepted Berdych just did not give him any chances to come back into the match.
“The first set I was very nervous, so that’s why it’s pretty quick, the set, but after first set I was a little bit looser,” Nishioka, who moved to Florida to train when he was 14, said in hesitant English. “I had a couple chances, but he didn’t give me easy points. I feel that I had chances, so, I mean, maybe if I play more the top 10 players, maybe I can get a set or I can play more close against [them].”
Meanwhile, it was a chastening day on Court Two for Nishioka’s compatriot Tatsuma Ito, who was comfortably beaten in straight sets by the 28th seed Fabio Fognini.
Making his first appearance at Roland Garros since losing to Andy Murray three years ago, the 27-year-old Ito was wiped out 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just 1 hour, 33 minutes by the Italian.
Fognini, who beat Rafael Nadal on the way to the final on clay in Rio de Janeiro this season, next faces either Portuguese qualifier Gastao Elias or Benoit Paire of France in the second round.
Qualifier Taro Daniel, ranked 168th in the world, fared no better as he bowed out in straight sets to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.
Nishikori made it past the first round after he got the better of France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu in straight sets on Sunday.
The other Japanese hope, Go Soeda, was defeated 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 by German 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in his first-round match.
The only seeded men to be knocked out on Sunday were 25th seed Ivo Karlovic, beaten 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-4 by 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, and 26th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, edged 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (1/7), 3-6, 6-3 by world No. 56 Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach, California.
Two seeded women headed home — 25th seed Peng Shuai of China, a US Open semi-finalist last year, quit after being treated for a back injury, and 31st seed Caroline Garcia of France.
Among the winners was 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic.
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