PARIS: Roger Federer enlivened a routine day at the office with a violet and pink outfit and a several dabs of brilliance to launch another French Open quest but his mood darkened after a security breach on Sunday.
The evergreen Swiss was in full control against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, marking the start of his 62nd consecutive appearance at a grand slam tournament with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory on court Philippe Chatrier.
When he walked off, however, a fan sauntered on and began trying to snap a selfie with a mobile phone before he was belatedly removed by a security guard.
“I’m not happy about it. Obviously not one second I’m happy about it. It happened yesterday in the practice, too,” a ruffled Federer told reporters, adding that organisers had apologised.
Tournament director Gilbert Ysern told a news conference that even though a mistake had been made and that the incident was “embarrassing”, there was no reason to change security procedures at the tournament.
The 17-times major winner, champion at Roland Garros in 2009, was the star turn on a low-key opening day in a sunny French capital, taking to the court after women’s third seed Simona Halep got the ball rolling.
Romanian Halep, seeded three after reaching the final last year, was made to work hard by 91st-ranked Russian Evgeniya Rodina, huffing and puffing her way to a 7-5 6-4 victory.
“It was a tough match, because it was the first round and it is always is difficult to start the tournament,” she said.
Federer also made a few errors as he loosened up against a player he almost fell to in the first round at Wimbledon in 2010. But he was never in any danger.
Strolling on to court with a perfectly-matched violet shirt, pink shorts and black bandana, 33-year-old Federer quickly warmed to his task, while Falla offered enough resistance to provide some lunchtime entertainment.
Federer, one of 39 players in their 30s in the men’s draw, breezed through the first two sets and though Falla had a break point in the fifth game of the third, Federer snuffed out the danger to roll through to round two.
While the “selfie seeking” fan soured his day, Federer was happy enough with his form.
“Winning a match like this is a good thing,” Federer, ever-present at grand slams this century, said. “I hit a lot of balls today. Clearly hope that I will start to play better and better as the match, as the tournament goes on.”
Federer, conveniently in the opposite side of the draw to nine-times champions Rafa Nadal, world number one Novak Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray, will have a few days off before a clash with Spain’s Marcel Granollers.
His eighth-seeded compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, one of several players to beat Nadal on clay this season, was a 6-3 6-2 6-3 winner against Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the biggest threat to Federer in the bottom half of the draw, beat French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3 7-5 6-1 before local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rounded off proceedings against Swedish qualifier Christian Lindell with a 6-1 6-2 6-2 win.
Germany’s Philip Kohlschreiber, beaten by Murray in a marathon match here last year, dropped only three games against Japan’s Go Soeda, while Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut beat German Florian Mayer, also in straight sets.
Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny’s tournament did not last long. He quit when trailing Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur 6-2 6-1 — smashing his racket into his forehead several times as his frustration boiled over.
Former champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, seeded seventh, reached the second round by beating Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-2 6-0. – Reuters