Federer flies through first round at French Open

The French-speaking voice booming through loudspeakers at Court Philippe Chatrier recited Roger Federer’s bona fides during pre-match

Switzerland's Roger Federer returns the ball to Australia's Peter Luczak during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris

Switzerland's Roger Federer returns the ball to Australia's Peter Luczak during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris

PARIS — The French-speaking voice booming through loudspeakers at Court Philippe Chatrier recited Roger Federer’s bona fides during pre-match introductions, detailing his six titles at Wimbledon, five at the U.S. Open, four at the Australian Open and then, reaching a crescendo, concluded this way:

“One at Roland Garros, here, last year!”

Federer smiled. Fans roared, many rising to applaud. Playing at the French Open as defending champion for the first time, Federer gave ’em plenty to cheer about Monday, dipping into his considerable repertoire of shotmaking in a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory over 71st-ranked Peter Luczak of Australia.

With the end result far from in doubt, Federer turned the outing into a glorified practice session. He closed one extended exchange by slicing a backhand with so much spin that, after landing, the ball darted back toward the net, away from Luczak. Federer acknowledged the cheers by raising an index finger, lest somebody forget he’s No. 1.

“If it was anyone else, I’d be getting pretty angry,” said Luczak, whose career mark in Grand Slam matches fell to 5-14. “He just had me on a string and just (was) toying with me at the end. I think he was enjoying it.”

Federer made only 11 unforced errors, won 50 of 64 points on his serve and faced one break point, which he saved.

“I was pretty relaxed,” said Federer, who can tie Pete Sampras’ record of 286 total weeks at No. 1 in the rankings June 7. “It was like a perfect match to get off the French Open campaign, really.”

In women’s action, Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic. The Canadian was pleased to open with a victory after battling shoulder troubles earlier this season.

“First time in a long time actually that I’ve felt pretty good,” Wozniak said. “I almost forgot what it felt like — winning and feeling so comfortable with your game. Stepping on the court and knowing what to do and being in the zone. I think it was a good solid win.”

Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., the only other Canadian in the singles draw, fell 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 to France’s Stephanie Cohen-Aloro.

Federer aside, other top players — even those who also won — were less pleased with their performances on Day 2, when a searing sun carried the temperature towards 30 C and made the most gruelling of tennis’ surfaces even more of a test of fitness.

The No. 1-ranked woman, Serena Williams, for example, found little to smile about after following Federer into the main stadium and beating Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 7-6 (2), 6-2.

“I definitely didn’t feel good about it,” said Williams, who counts the 2002 French Open among her 12 major championships. “At least I won. I think I’m still in the tournament; that’s what matters.”

She compiled 10 aces, converted all three break points she earned and accumulated a 28-13 edge in winners. Asked what pleased her about the way she played, Williams replied: “Across the board, nothing, really, just to be honest.”

It was not the sort of afternoon for long outings, but some players just can’t seem to help themselves, such as No. 4 Andy Murray and former top-10 player Richard Gasquet of France. Gasquet started well, but Murray finished well and won 4-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

Murray also lost the first two sets before beating Gasquet in five at Wimbledon in 2008.

Murray’s body language was about as bad as his play in the early going, and he pounded a fist into his forehead after blowing one backhand slice attempt in the third set. Yet it was Gasquet, who missed last year’s French Open after testing positive for cocaine, that faded. So Murray — a 2009 quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, twice the runner-up at other major tournaments, and Britain’s best hope for its first male Grand Slam champion since the 1930s — still will be around in the second round.

“He’s always fighting, fighting, putting all the balls in the court,” Gasquet said. “Even if he’s not playing so good, he’s very tough to beat.”

Two seeded Spaniards lost, No. 21 Tommy Robredo and No. 27 Feliciano Lopez, while Monday’s winners included No. 3 Novak Djokovic, No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez, No. 13 Gael Monfils, No. 14 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 19 Nicolas Almagro, No. 25 Marcos Baghdatis, and three U.S. men: No. 17 John Isner, Taylor Dent and Mardy Fish.

The 29-year-old Dent never before had won a French Open match and remarked with a wide smile: “Better late than never, right?”

He pointed out that the hot and dry weather has transformed the clay, making the surface “really quick. It’s almost like a hard court out there.”