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.
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.”
After the shock first-round defeat of pre-tournament favourite Serena Williams on Tuesday, sister Venus was due on Philippe Chatrier court in the last match of Wednesday, playing 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