Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan advanced to the second round of the French Open yesterday, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 7-6 (10/8).
Chan’s victory came on the back of a more reliable serve — the Taiwanese had a 78 percent first serve percentage compared with her opponent’s 55 percent, with only three double faults to the Ukrainian’s six.
Although Bondarenko hit 24 winners to Chan’s 13 in the match, it was not enough to make up for 41 unforced errors against Chan’s 23.
In the next round Chan is set to face No. 26 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Later yesterday, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei took on 18th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy on court 17.
As of press time, Hsieh was looking to cause an upset after winning the first set 7-6 (7/3), with the winner set to meet Alexa Glatch of the US in the second round.
Earlier, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka turned it on when she had to, winning 12 of the final 14 games to reach the second round.
The Australian Open champion, who took over the No. 1 ranking by winning in Melbourne, struggled for long stretches, but came back to beat Alberta Brianti of Italy 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2.
Brianti, a 32-year-old veteran who has won one WTA title in her career, won the first set and then led 4-0 in the second, before losing six straight games.
Although Azarenka rebounded in the final two sets, she finished the match with 60 unforced errors.
Roger Federer managed a more straight-forward victory, beating Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.
The 16-time major champion equaled Jimmy Connors’ record of 233 career Grand Slam match wins in the Open era. Federer is 233-35 at tennis’ top four tournaments. Connors was 233-49.
Defending women’s champion Li Na also won easily, beating Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-1.
Last year, Li became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won at Roland Garros.
No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and No. 19 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia also advanced to the second round, but men’s No. 15 seed Feliciano Lopez retired from his match with a side-muscle injury after losing the first five games of the first set to Florent Serra.
Azarenka was first up in the main stadium and she did not look good at the start.
In the first set alone, she had 28 unforced errors.
The top-ranked Belarussian started the season with a 26-match winning streak. Her first loss came in the quarter-finals of the Sony Ericsson Open.
No top-seeded woman has ever lost in the first round at the French Open since the tournament began to allow foreign entrants in 1925.
In the other Grand Slam tournaments it has happened four times, most recently when top-ranked and top-seeded Martina Hingis lost in the first round at Wimbledon in 2001.
On Sunday, Venus Williams tamed a plucky teenaged fan who once e-mailed her for playing tips, while fellow American Andy Roddick found himself off target as he bowed out in the first round.
For Williams, who returned in March after being diagnosed with a fatigue-inducing blood disorder, her tortuous 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over 120th-ranked Argentine Paula Ormaechea on a sparsely populated showcourt was a far cry from her heyday.
The winner of seven Grand Slams, including five Wimbledon titles, struggled to hold her own serve as Ormaechea, 19, refused to go quietly.
Williams found some of her old strength of mind to break the Argentine to love in the ninth game of the deciding set and take the victory, but her next task could be a hard one — she could face third seed Agnieska Radwanska of Poland, who was playing lowly Serbian Bojana Jovanovski late yesterday.
“She played beautifully,” Williams said of Ormaechea, who grew up idolizing the Williams sisters. “I was mostly hoping that my experience would help me out.”
Former US Open champion Roddick, who has never been at home on the red clay of Roland Garros, watched 13 aces whistle past him as he was beaten 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 by Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.
The 29-year-old Roddick missed two months of the tour before last week’s World Team Championship in Duesseldorf, Germany, because of a hip injury, but he refused to use that as an excuse.
“I lost a match to a guy who played better than I did,” he told a press conference.
Mahut followed hot on the heels of his fifth-seeded compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in reaching the second round, giving the French fans some cheer after wild-card Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy had lost a brave battle against 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain earlier in the day.
Tsonga, the highest seed in action on a low-key opening day, had to pull himself together after a sluggish start to beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Tsonga, who is next set to face Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany, said he always found the first match of a big event hard.
“Very often I have difficulties, I have to find my bearings,” he told a press conference. “All players could tell you that practicing has nothing to do with an official match. When you start a tournament, you don’t have your bearings on the court.”
Ferrero, who at the age of 32 already has one eye on life after tennis with a hotel and other interests, beat Dasnieres de Veigy 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 on a sunny Suzanne Lenglen Court and he is set to meet Croatian Marin Cilic.
Ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina needed treatment on his left knee before he beat Spain’s Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1.
Del Potro said the injury had been bothering him since Madrid two weeks previously and he was glad to get his first Paris match over quickly.
“I will have two days to work with the physio on my knee. So I have time to recover and be in good shape for the next match,” he said.
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, seeded 13th, was even swifter in dispatching Spanish qualifier Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino 6-1, 6-1, while France’s Irena Pavlovic dumped out Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.