• Friday, December 19, 2014

Freedom in the air

Roland Garros, Paris

Novak, Maria move on

Nishikori crashes out

Afp, Paris

Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova shrugged off the Paris rain to reach the French Open second round Monday as Japanese ninth seed Kei Nishikori became the tournament's first major casualty.
Second seed Djokovic, the 2012 runner-up who is seeking a first Roland Garros title to complete a career Grand Slam, brushed aside Portugal's Joao Sousa, the world 42, in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
During a match interrupted by rain, the 27-year-old Serb was at his charismatic best, delighting the Philippe Chatrier crowd by sharing a drink with a ballboy as they sheltered beneath an umbrella.
Djokovic, widely regarded as the favourite to dethrone eight-time champion Rafael Nadal having beaten the Spaniard in Rome two weeks ago, next faces French hope Jeremy Chardy.
Sharapova, seeded seven and the 2012 champion, needed just over an hour to beat fellow Russian, Ksenia Pervak, the world's 156th-ranked player, 6-1, 6-2.
The 27-year-old, who lost last year's final to Serena Williams, looked comfortable under the cloudy conditions on Chatrier, breaking her opponent five times.
Sharapova will next face Bulgaria's 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova.


"First matches at Grand Slams are always tough, no matter how prepared you are, no matter how many matches you've played," said Sharapova, now 13-1 on clay in 2014 with titles in Stuttgart and Madrid.
"There is always a bit more tension in that type of Grand Slam atmosphere. It's certainly more special, especially when you walk out on court."
Nishikori was left feeling as miserable as the Paris weather, clearly still suffering from his recent back injury.
Nishikori, 24, and coached by 1989 champion Michael Chang, was the first Japanese man in 75 years to make the fourth round in Paris in 2013.
But on Monday, there was never any sign that he would repeat that feat as he went down 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-2 to Slovakia's Martin Klizan.
Nishikori won the Barcelona claycourt title last month but then had to quit the Madrid Masters final against Nadal with a back injury that also forced him out of the Rome Masters.
The world number 10 looked distinctly half-fit on Court 1 where he was broken 10 times, hit 10 double faults and committed 40 unforced errors
Left-handed Klizan, 24, one of six former junior champions in the main draw, goes on to face Robin Haase of the Netherlands.
"It sucks," said Nishikori.

Published: 12:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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