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Ivanovic digs deep, Safin and Murray ease through


Latest update : 2009-05-25

Defending champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia struggled to beat Italy's Sara Errani on the first day of the French Open. Over in the men's draw, Marat Safin and Andy Murray rolled over their opponents to ease into the second round.

AFP - Defending champion Ana Ivanovic survived a 30-degree sweatshop to reach the French Open second round on Sunday as the sun shone kindly on Grand Slam old-stagers Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin.

Ivanovic clinched a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win over Italy's world number 44 Sara Errani with the eighth-seeded Serbian showing few signs of the knee injury which kept her out of the Madrid Open.

"I knew I had to work hard for every point, but I kept my composure even when I was making mistakes," said Ivanovic.

"My knee wasn't a problem. I feel fine. I had some good practice sessions after taking the Madrid tournament off. It only takes a few days to get back into shape."

The 21-year-old will play either Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn or Camille Pin of France for a place in the third round.

British number three seed Andy Murray eased into the next round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Argentina's Juan Igancio Chela and a match-up against either Germany's Mischa Zverev or Potito Starace of Italy.

Murray, one of the few men capable of pouncing should four-time champion Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer slip-up, needed just an hour and 45 minutes to see off Chela, a former quarter-finalist whose ranking has slumped to 205.

"It was a very good win. Chela's a tough player. I needed to play well and I did," said the Scotsman who unleashed 55 winners.

"I lost my first service game but after that I was happy with the way I played."

Hewitt and Safin, both former world number ones and with two Grand Slam titles each, enjoyed contrasting victories.

Hewitt survived a world record 55-ace barrage from giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic to claim a 6-7 (1/7), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-3 win which consumed almost four hours.

It was the fifth time in his career that the 28-year-old Australian, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris, had come back from a two-set deficit.

Karlovic's ace-count was a world record, beating the previous best of 51 he shared with Sweden's Joachim Johansson set at Wimbledon in 2005; both men still lost.

Hewitt, now ranked 50 and who underwent hip surgery in August last year, will face Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan for a place in the third round where four-time champion Rafael Nadal is a likely opponent.

"To play Karlovic on any surface is hard especially when his ace-count is up in the 50s," said Hewitt, of a man who famously defeated him in the first round at Wimbledon in 2003 when the Australian was defending champion.

"After losing the tiebreakers it's more of a mental battle. You have to hang in there and go the distance."

Karlovic's career record in five-set matches remains at 0-11.

Safin, a semi-finalist in 2002 and playing his 11th and last French Open before retiring, eased past French wildcard Alexandre Sidorenko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

"I still have months to go. I have plenty of tennis yet to play," said the 29-year-old Safin.

There there was to be no fairytale return for 2004 champion Gaston Gaudio who took last year off to escape the grind of the tour.

The Argentine wildcard, the last winner before Nadal took charge, lost 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to Czech 18th seed Radek Stepanek.

China's Li Na, the women's 25th seed, had the honour of becoming the first player to reach the second round thanks to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Poland's Marta Domachowska.

The 26-year-old Li now meets Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky.

Li was quickly joined in the second round by promising Russian 17-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 27th seed, who eased past Romania's Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-3, 6-2.

Eighteen-year-old Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko, the world 151, reduced Mathilde Johansson, one of a record 19 Frenchwomen in the draw, to a tearful wreck after a three-hour 2-6, 6-2, 10-8 win.

Johansson wasted eight match points, four of which were squandered on double faults.

Diatchenko, making her Grand Slam debut, will face either world number one Dinara Safina or Britain's Anne Keothavong for a place in the third round.

Also making progress in the women's draw were Belarussian ninth seed Victoria Azarenka and Russian 11th seed Nadia Petrova, who would face Maria Sharapova if the former world number one gets past the first round on Monday.

Date created : 2009-05-24