By Bill Scott –
PARIS — Roger Federer uncharacteristically let two match points slip away in a tiebreaker but cracked the whip in the ensuing set to notch another tennis record at the French Open on Wednesday with his 234th Grand Slam match win.
The Swiss icon’s 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 defeat of Romanian Adrian Ungur broke the mark of another racquet hero, Jimmy Connors, who reigned atop the sport in the 1970s and 1980s.
Federer, 30, played his first match at one of the big four events in 1999 in Paris, losing to Patrick Rafter in four sets. He finished with 50 winners.
Number 92 Unger produced the tiebreak of his life to salvage the two potential Federer match winners, leaving the Swiss to pick up his pace in the fourth set to go through.
“Instead of being aggressive in the tiebreaker, I let him show me what he could do,” said Federer. “He played two beautiful shots, and then I started not playing very well.
“In the fourth set I made some decisions which were probably not the best ones, but at the end of the day, I had some margin for error, I’m glad to go through.”
Federer joined top seed Novak Djokovic in the third round at Roland Garros.
Djokovic, aiming for his own bit of history by trying to win a fourth consecutive major to achieve a non-calendar Grand Slam, recovered from a lapse to defeat Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 6-0, 6-4, 6-4.
The Serb, who now owns a 23-match Grand Slam win streak, admitted that he let his opponent back into the set after sweeping the first set.
“He wasn’t missing as many balls as in the first set, but I stopped, I gave him the opportunity to come back to the match after a perfect first set, first seven games.
“But this is tennis. Of course I didn’t underestimate my opponent today. I expected him to fight, I expected him to come back.
“He didn’t have anything to lose, and he showed his quality and it was a really, really great second and third set.”
Czech Tomas Berdych, seeded seventh, swept France’s Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
Argentine ninth seed Juan Del Potro played lethargically to lose the first set against Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but found his game despite recent knee pain to end it 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 6-4
Women’s number one Victoria Azarenka crushed German Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1, 6-1 but not without a few teething problems.
The top seed said she needed a few games to figure out Pfizenmaier but was pleased not to have to ward off a potential upset as she did in the first round when she was forced to win 12 of the last 14 games to get past Italian Alberta Brianti.
The American optimism of 48 hours ago when 10 women went through to the second round faded away with defeats six players, including Venus Williams who joined her sister Serena on the scrapheap.
Williams lost quietly to third seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-3 with the Pole earning a match point with a lob in the rain and advancing as Williams put a forehand out.
The winner struck only six unforced errors in the rout.
Croatian Petra Martic upset top French player Marion Bartoli, seeded eighth 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 while 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic advanced over Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-2.