Federer, Pierce surge ahead in Paris

Roger Federer and Mary Pierce strode confidently into the second round of the French Open.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Top men's seed Roger Federer and former women's champion Mary Pierce strode confidently into the second round of the French Open today. Federer, 22, ended his Roland Garros jinx by beating Belgian newcomer Kristof Vliegen 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 on his third match point after 1 hour 16 minutes on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, hoping to complete a Grand Slam of titles this year, was never bothered by the 110th-ranked Belgian, who only reached the main draw as a lucky loser after being beaten in the final round of qualifying. The world number one needed just 20 minutes to wrap up the first set with Vliegen putting up the only real opposition in the final game when he saved two match points before Federer wrapped up the tie with a forehand winner. The Swiss, widely considered the finest player of the current generation, has suffered first round defeats on the slow, red clay of Roland Garros in the last two years. Bidding to better his previous best, a quarterfinal appearance in 2001, Federer next meets Germany's Nicolas Kiefer whom he trails 2-3 in their previous meetings but whom he has never played on clay. Kiefer advanced by beating Frenchman Thierry Ascione 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Last year's surprise runner-up Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands, seeded 19, won his opening match 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 against France's Julien Boutter. Pierce cruises Pierce had little problem dispatching Luxembourg's Claudine Schaul, the slayer of American Lindsay Davenport in the Strasbourg final at the weekend. The world number 34, who has not won a title since her triumph here in 2000, won through 6-2, 6-3 in 74min against 41st-ranked Schaul on the Philippe Chatrier Centre Court. The 29-year-old Pierce next meets Spain's Gala Leon Garcia who earlier beat Laura Granville of the United States 6-4, 6-1. (PTI)