Tsonga and Mahut make French fans happy

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made the Paris spectators happy when he recovered from a first-set loss to move into the second round of the French Open on Sunday's first day.

Minutes later, Nicolas Mahut doubled the home fans' delight when he joined his fellow Frenchman in the next round after a four-set defeat of American Andy Roddick.

World number five Tsonga, the highest seed in action on the opening day, beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-4, waking up after a slow start on the Philippe Chatrier court to earn a standing ovation at the end.

Mahut, who had lost eight times in the Roland Garros first round before this year, looked vulnerable again when, having strapped up his left knee, he dropped the third set, but he came back to take the match 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-2.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro also overcame a knee injury in beating Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2 6-7 6-2 6-1.

The ninth-seeded Del Potro, who won the Estoril Open on clay three weeks ago, said problems with his knee had started after his semi-final defeat at the Madrid Open two weeks ago.

"I'm still working with the physio every day, trying to recover," the 2009 U.S. Open winner told a news conference.

"I'm glad to go through - I will have two days to work with the physio on my knee. So I have time to recover and to be in good shape for the next match."

Former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero knocked out battling local player, and Roland Garros debutant, Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy 6-1 6-4 6-3 in bright sunshine on the Suzanne Lenglen Court.

The 25-year-old Frenchman, cheered heartily by fans in the half-full stands, needed two bouts of treatment on his serving arm at changeovers and saved two match points before putting a forehand long on the third.

Spaniard Ferrero, who at 32 is one of the more seasoned campaigners in the men's draw, was not entirely happy with his performance but he said his age did not bother him.

"When I walk on the court I don't think whether I am young or old, the only thing I try to do is play well," the world number 44 and the winner here in 2003 told a news conference.

Ferrero will now play Marin Cilic after the Croatian defeated Spain's Daniel Munoz 6-4 6-4 7-5.

Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French champion, blew kisses to the crowd after making short work of Spanish qualifier Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino in her opening match.

The Serbian former world number one, seeded 13th, finished off a 59-minute 6-1 6-1 demolition with an ace.

Australian Samantha Stosur, seeded sixth, was also in a hurry, taking just over an hour to dismiss Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-4 6-0.

Stosur, runner-up here in 2010, was happy to be back on red clay in Paris after players criticised the blue clay surface introduced at the Madrid Open this month, saying it was slippery.

"It's nice to be on a real clay court again and actually feel like you can play more clay court tennis," Stosur told a news conference. "I think that's one of the things that's probably annoyed a lot of people is that you're on a clay court but you can't play real clay court tennis.

Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka will be in action tomorrow, along with Roger Federer, starting his quest for a 17th grand-slam title.

REUTERS

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