Tsonga and Del Potro take hard road
Stosur, Kuznetsova progress
Home hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga struggled under the weight of expectations while dangerman Juan Martin Del Potro shrugged off an injury scare in yesterday’s sweltering opening day at Roland Garros.
Fifth-seeded Tsonga, the highest-ranked player in action, overcame a worrying first set wobble to beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Tsonga, who sparked controversy on the eve of the tournament, by claiming that French players had no chance of winning their home Grand Slam, next faces Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebbe.
Ninth seed Del Potro, the Argentine who won the 2009 US Open, having made the semi-finals in the same year, saw off Spanish veteran Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-1 in a shade over three hours.
He will tackle France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin for a place in the last 32.
Del Potro, a potential quarter-final opponent of Roger Federer, had beaten Montanes in straight sets on his way to the Estoril title in April.
But he endured a bumpy ride on Philippe Chatrier Court when his troublesome left knee, which had already been taped, required further strapping at the end of the marathon second set.
The 23-year-old, the only man outside of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer to win a Grand Slam title in the last seven years, also needed a doctor three games into the second set as the soaring temperatures threatened to take their toll.
“I was struggling a little, but I had some good treatment which allowed me to finish the match,” said Del Potro.
“Roland Garros is a physically-demanding tournament. I have to keep that in mind as I am playing well at the moment.”
Andy Roddick slumped to a fifth French Open first round defeat when the injury-plagued American lost 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to France’s Nicolas Mahut.
Former US Open champion Roddick, who has never got beyond the third round in Paris in 10 visits, came into Roland Garros having made his season’s European claycourt bow only in Dusseldorf last week where he lost all three matches.
Now ranked at 29 in the world, Roddick has been battling hamstring problems for most of the year.
World 88 Mahut has now equalled his best French Open performance having also made the second round in 2010.
The 30-year-old will tackle either Canada’s Frank Dancevic or Martin Klizan of Slovakia for a place in the last 32.
“Down two sets, it’s not where you want to be,” said Roddick. “I move horrendously on this stuff, I feel like I am shuffling around. I made a choice to play and I lost.”
Also making the last 64 was 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, who defeated French wildcard Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Ferrero next meets Croatian 21st seed Maran Cilic.
US Open champion Samantha Stosur had the honour of being the first player into the second round, brushing aside Britain’s Elena Baltacha.
Australian sixth seed Stosur, the 2010 runner-up to Francesca Schiavone, took just over an hour to see off the 68th-ranked Baltacha 6-4, 6-0 on Philippe Chatrier court.
The 26-year-old from the Gold Coast, who hammered 23 winners to Baltacha’s eight, next faces Irina Falconi of the United States.
Stosur, who also kicked-off the 2011 tournament, said she was getting used to the French Open Sunday starts which were introduced in 2006.
“The first year they had it, there were only a few matches and it didn’t feel like the tournament had really started, it didn’t feel like it was happenening with fewer players around,” she said.
“But now with a full schedule, it really feels like the first day of the event.”
Joining Stosur in the next round was Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The 2009 champion, seeded 26 this year, marked her 40th Grand Slam appearance with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over Croatian world number 117 Mirjana Lucic.
The 26-year-old Russian, who was also runner-up in 2006, brushed aside the 30-year-old Florida-based Lucic in just 61 minutes.
Kuznetsova next tackles either Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine or Taiwan qualifier Chan Yung-Jan.
Other result: V. Williams bt Ormaechea 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.