PARIS: American sixth seed Andy Roddick reached the French Open second round with a grueling 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 victory over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
After the ardous five set win, Roddick seemed to be quite under prepared, courtesy of missing the entire clay court season.
Just as the American had comfortably claimed the first set, the wily 28-year-old Nieminen came roaring back in the next two before again handing the initiative to Roddick in the fourth set tiebreak.
The Finnish left-hander had a break point in the third game of the decider which the American saved. Roddick broke to lead 3-2 and claimed the match on a second match point in the ninth game when Nieminen served up a double fault. Roddick will face either Eduardo Schwank of Argentina or Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic for a place in the last 32.
Henin gets back to business
Four-time champion Justine Henin made a winning return to Roland Garros on Tuesday after she sent Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova packing with a 6-4, 6-3 win in the second round. The Belgian former world number one seemed to be back in form, firing an impressive 31 winners in her 89-minute match.
Henin carved out the only break in the seventh game of the first set courtesy of her trademark one-handed backhand. She was ahead with another break for 1-0 in the second set before Pironkova leveled at 2-2. The Bulgarian then squandered two break points in the sixth game and Henin made her pay by nipping in front for a crucial 4-3 advantage and then claimed the tie on the first of three match points when Prionkova went wide with a sloppy backhand.
Murray gives a déjà vu
History repeated itself on Monday when British fourth seed Andy Murray hit back from two sets down to beat France’s Richard Gasquet in a memorable five-set first-round match.
In a repeat of his epic victory against Gasquet in the last 16 at Wimbledon in 2008, Murray allowed the Frenchman to open up a two-set lead before roaring back to win 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in four hours and four minutes.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.