Federer advances at French Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/r/rogerfederer_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Roger Federer advanced to the second round of French open.

Updated: June 01, 2007 10:30 IST
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Roger Federer doesn't like to be rushed. On Wednesday he didn't have a choice.

Already annoyed with French Open organisers for giving him a late start, top-ranked Federer's frustration deepened when conditions worsened at Roland Garros, the sun began to fade, and so did his control of the second-round match with local journeyman Thierry Ascione.

With dark almost upon them, the Swiss star walked off a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (8) winner to the relief of he and tournament bosses.

"I know that they want to get their match over and done with," Federer said of the organizers, who have been squeezing in extra matches because of the rain delays on the first two days.

"What I don't like is if they think ... I'm the favorite, I should win this in straight sets," added Federer, who came off court at 9:15 p.m. "What about if it doesn't turn out this way?"

On Thursday, two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal was to face Flavio Cipolla, an Italian ranked 227th who secured his maiden ATP-level win in the first round. No 14 Lleyton Hewitt, No 7 Ivan Ljubicic and No 16 Marco Baghdatis were also in action.

On the women's side, second-ranked Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Amelie Mauresmo were all scheduled to play in the second round.

Sharapova, Mauresmo, defending champion Justine Henin and Venus Williams were among the winners on Wednesday, all in straight sets.

They advanced with fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and two-time quarterfinalist Tommy Robredo, but the fallen included two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin and 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych.

Federer, bidding for a fourth successive major title and a career Grand Slam, opened each of the first two sets against Ascione with two breaks. He added another break in the third set, but then it got tough.

Ascione broke when Federer was serving for the match at 5-4, saving two match points.

"Conditions were shocking," Federer said. "I hate playing into (dusk). I can hardly see the ball."

When he shook hands with Ascione at the net, "I told him I could hardly see him anymore. It was so dark.

"I managed to find his hand. We were able to shake hands. It was a joke."

Sharapova beats Loit

Sharapova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, coming back from nearly two months out with a right shoulder injury, beat Emilie Loit of France 6-3, 7-6 (4).

"My shoulder is still not where I want it to be, but I love competing and whatever it takes to be here I'll do," Sharapova said. "Even without a serve, I'm good enough to win many matches."

Another Russian's welcome return didn't fare as well. Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 champ who had surgery on a toe on her left foot in January, lost her opener to Meghann Shaughnessy of the United States 6-1, 6-0.

"The scar is really sensitive," the 25-year-old Myskina said. "I've been practicing (for) one month, and I was just thinking to come here and see what can I do with my foot. But it wasn't that good."

Myskina is 0-7 in tour events since August.

"I'm still scared to run at 100 percent," she said. "I'll have to cross this line."

Venus Williams reached the third round beating fellow American Ashley Harkleroad 6-1, 7-6 (8) with the fastest recorded serve in a women's main-draw match at 206 kph (128 mph).

"I loved it. That's where I lost my focus a little bit," Williams said. "I was excited because I broke my record."

Safin fell to Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in a second-round effort he admitted was limp.

He hasn't won consecutive matches since March, or a title since the 2005 Australian Open, and senses he's losing his touch.

"I'm 27 years old and already downhill on my career," he said. "It would be sad to live with being a struggling player."

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