Djokovic, Ivanovic, Blake advance to 2nd round

Updated: 30 May 2008 16:17 IST

Djokovic survived a rough start to his quest for a second straight Grand Slam title, holding off Denis Gremelmayr 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

Djokovic, Ivanovic, Blake advance to 2nd round

Paris:

Gustavo Kuerten bid farewell to tennis on Sunday in the first round of the French Open, losing 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to Paul-Henri Mathieu at the site of his biggest triumphs.

The former top-ranked Brazilian won three French Open titles.

"Here, it is my life, my passion and my love," Kuerten said in French. "It's great to have my family here, my coach. But more important was the love you gave me."

The 31-year-old Kuerten has been bothered by a hip injury since 2001. Since having surgery in 2004, he has played in only 19 tournaments and won five matches. This year's French Open was his first appearance in a Grand Slam tournament since the 2005 US Open and he said beforehand it would be his last event at any level.

"It's incredible how fast it all went," said Kuerten, who won 20 titles during a pro career that began in 1995. In 2000, he became the first South American to finish the year at the top of the ATP rankings.

Kuerten plans to play in the doubles tournament in Paris.

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic, No. 6 David Nalbandian, No. 10 Andy Roddick and No. 7 James Blake advanced to the second round, but 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya lost to Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (1), 4-6, 6-3.

Blake's 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory over Rainer Schuettler made him the first American man to win a match at Roland Garros since 2006.

In the women's draw, two-time Grand Slam runner-up Ana Ivanovic struggled before beating Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 7-5. The first seeded player to lose was No. 15 Nicole Vaidisova. She reached the French Open semifinals in 2006 and the quarterfinals last year, but was upset by Iveta Benesova 7-6 (2), 6-1.

Kuerten saved one match point before sending a weak shot into the net. Then he sat back in his chair and pulled a towel over his head. Shaking, he emerged with his eyes red and finally shook hands with Mathieu.

Kuerten was then led to the center of the court, where he was given a glass trophy showing a slice of a clay court.

Kuerten, the last No. 1-seeded man to win the title in Paris in 2001, entered what he said would be his last tournament as the lowest-ranked man in the field at No. 1,141. He got his spot in the draw as a wild card.

Kuerten's final match was played on Court Philippe Chatrier, the main stadium at Roland Garros and the same venue where he won French Open titles in 1997, 2000 and '01.

Despite playing a Frenchman, Kuerten was cheered on by most in the crowd, complete with several Brazilian flags waving in the stands and group of people with giant gold-colored letters spelling out G-U-G-A, his nickname.

Kuerten showed some of the guile that got him to the top of the tennis world, including a soft, spinning ace while trailing 5-2 in the first set. He followed that with a much harder serve that also went for an ace.

In the second set, Kuerten was broken in the ninth game and trailed 5-4. During the changeover, he sipped water while a trainer massaged his lower back.

With Kuerten down a break in the third set, the fans started chanting, "Guga! Guga!"

In January, Kuerten announced that this would be his final year. He pulled out of last month's Barcelona Open because of a muscle injury.

Djokovic survived a rough start to his quest for a second straight Grand Slam title, holding off Denis Gremelmayr 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

The Australian Open champion was broken in his first two service games on center court and trailed 5-1 in the first set before finding some of his game in the second.

In the third set, Djokovic started to show his frustration, throwing his racket into the red clay after Gremelmayr hit a forehand winner in the opening game.

Djokovic is trying to become first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to win Australian and French Opens in same year.

"It's good to hear that the people are talking about more than two (players)," Djokovic said, referring to Federer and three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal.

At last year's French Open, American men went 0-9 in the first round, with Blake losing to Ivo Karlovic.

Blake is 9-6 on clay this year, but he struggled to finally beat Schuettler, who has lost in the first round at Roland Garros in seven of his nine appearances.

The second-ranked Ivanovic, who became the first player representing Serbia to play in a major final at last year's French Open, had six double-faults on center court and was broken by her Swedish opponent when serving for the first set at 5-1.

Ivanovic, who also reached the final at this year's Australian Open, will face Lucie Safarova in the second round. The Czech player beat Sandra Kloesel of Germany 6-1, 6-1.

Vaidisova reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, but she has now lost six straight matches.

Nalbandian, a two-time French Open semifinalist, advanced to the second round by beating Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 6-2, 6-4, 6-1. Murray beat Jonathan Eysseric, who turns 18 on Tuesday and is the youngest player in the men's field, 6-2, 1-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-2.

Topics : Tennis Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Maria Sharapova
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