PARIS (Reuters) - Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic gave themselves more work than anticipated in moving into the third round of the French Open on Wednesday.
Former champion Federer set a record with his 234th grand-slam match win but only after wasting two matchpoints in a third-set tiebreak and having to play a fourth set to beat Romanian Adrian Ungur.
The third-seeded Federer eventually won 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-3 on a sunny Philippe Chatrier court to pass Jimmy Connors’s professional-era record, having equalled it in the first round here.
“Instead of being aggressive I let him show me what he could do,” Federer said of the lost matchpoints. “He played two beautiful shots and he played very well.”
World number one Djokovic, aiming to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four grand-slam titles at the same time, rattled off the first seven games before faltering against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.
“I stopped,” the Serbian told a news conference, after the match turned into a fierce battle which he finally won 6-0 6-4 6-4. “I gave him the opportunity to come back into the match after a perfect first seven games.”
The fans sitting in the sunshine on Suzanne Lenglen court threw themselves behind underdog Kavcic and the Slovenian played on their sympathy, urging them on when they cheered his first game win at the start of the second set.
Their noisy enthusiasm reached a high point after he saved a breakpoint to hold for 3-3 in the third set and then went 0-30 up in the next game, and the umpire sternly warned the crowd to keep quiet during play.
In the third round, Djokovic will play French qualifier Nicolas Devilder while Federer will meet either Slovakian Martin Klizan or Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.
Women’s world number one Victoria Azarenka redeemed herself after narrowly avoiding first-round defeat when she easily beat German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1 6-1 in her second match.
The Belarussian lost the first game but then reeled off 11 in a row and declared herself happy, saying: “Definitely played much better today.” She now faces Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak.
Eighth seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, a semi-finalist last year, hit 14 double faults on the way to a defeat by Croatian world number 50 Petra Martic.
The 21-year-old Martic reached the third round of a grand-slam for the first time with her fighting 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory and will now play Spanish 29th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues.
Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French champion and a former world number one, was happy to reach the third round too, after losing at the first hurdle here in an injury-plagued 2011.
“Last year probably was the hardest one for me ever,” said the Serbian after beating Israeli Shahar Peer 6-2 6-2.
“To come back here this year and play better and go through to the third round, it means a lot. I really hope I can even go further.”
U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, the runner-up here two years ago, raced to a 5-0 lead before beating American world number 112 Irina Falconi 6-1 6-4.
“I thought it was a good, solid match,” the Australian sixth seed said. “I was happy with the winners that I hit. I thought you could always hit a few less errors... Overall, I‘m quite happy with it.”
Argentine men’s ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro also reached the third round with a 6-7 7-6 6-4 victory over Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin and will now play Croatian Marin Cilic.
“It’s going to be tough,” Del Potro told a news conference. “We know one another well, very well. The matches we play are always very difficult matches. The way he plays tennis is similar to my way of playing tennis.”
The French fans were delighted to see Gilles Simon win through 6-4 6-1 6-7 1-6 6-0 after a tough match with American wildcard Brian Baker.
Simon, the 11th seed, raced through the final set but needed three matchpoints to finish off the victory in just under three hours.
After the shock first-round defeat of pre-tournament favourite Serena Williams on Tuesday, sister Venus was playing on Philippe Chatrier court in the last match of Wednesday, against third seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.
Venus, a seven-times grand-slam winner and former world number one, has been rebuilding her life and game after being diagnosed with an autoimmune illness.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar