Monday, May 25, 2009

PARIS | Apart from some jitters in his first service game, Andy Murray had little trouble beating Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday in his opening match at the French Open.

Murray, who has reached only one clay-court semifinal in his career, was broken in the first game of the match but then dominated Chela with 55 winners and 10 aces.

“After that, I was very happy with the way I played,” Murray said of the early break. “I wasn’t expecting to play that well in the first match.”

Defending champion Ana Ivanovic struggled on the important points in the opening match on center court before beating Sara Errani of Italy 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the women’s draw.

The eighth-seeded Serb converted only five of the 20 break points she earned against her opponent. Errani broke three times and even served for the first set at 5-4.

“I knew I had to work hard for my points today, and I’m very happy I did that,” Ivanovic said. “And I kept my composure.”

Murray looked rusty early, but he soon began to hit hard groundstrokes and move Chela around the court. While he only had four fewer unforced errors, Murray had 41 more winners.

“Chela is a tough player,” Murray said. “I understood what I had to do today. I didn’t take Chela lightly at all.”

Chela, who won all four of his singles titles on clay, was sidelined eight months with a herniated disk. He returned in February and is playing at Roland Garros with a protected ranking of No. 54.

“I played good, but Andy’s too tough,” Chela said. “I started playing well, but all the points were very long, and I started to feel tired.”

Ivo Karlovic set a tour-level record for aces with 55 in his 6-7 (1), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3 loss to Lleyton Hewitt.

The 26th-seeded Karlovic, who has lost in the first round in 14 of his 24 Grand Slam appearances, broke the previous record of 51, which he shared with Joachim Johansson. The previous mark for aces in a French Open match was 37, held by Andy Roddick.

“To play him on any surface, he’s so dangerous,” Hewitt said of Karlovic. “[He served] a lot of unreturnables with that as well.”

At Wimbledon in 2003, Hewitt lost to Karlovic to become the first man in the Open era to lose in the first round as defending champion at the All England Club.

Marat Safin, another of the eight former Grand Slam singles champions in the men’s field, also advanced. The Russian beat Alexandre Sidorenko of France 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“Every round is a tough one,” said Safin, who is planning to retire at the end of the season. “I’m trying but I’m really suffering on the court right now. But I’ll try to play better next match, and I hope that I will get through.”

Seventh-seeded Gilles Simon, No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, No. 13 Marin Cilic of Croatia, No. 14 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 18 Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic and No. 31 Nicolas Almagro of Spain also advanced.

Ivanovic, who beat Dinara Safina in last year’s final, pulled out of this month’s Madrid Open with a knee injury, and her right knee was taped Sunday at Roland Garros. She finished the match with seven double-faults and six aces, while the 44th-ranked Errani did a good job of moving the defending champion all over the court.

“Even though I had some time off during the Madrid tournament, I feel like it takes only a few days to get back in shape,” Ivanovic said. “I feel very fit.”

No. 11 Nadia Petrova reached the second round by easily beating 18-year-old Lauren Embree of the United States 6-1, 6-2.

Also, ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 25 Li Na of China, No. 27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and No. 32 Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic advanced.

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