Del Potro grinds out win
Juan Martin del Potro survived an injury scare to book his place in the second round of the French Open.
Last Updated: 27/05/12 8:10pm
Argentine Juan Martin del Potro survived an injury scare and sweltering 30-degree heat to book his place in the second round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-7 6-2 6-1 win against Spain's Albert Montanes.
The ninth-seeded Del Potro, a Roland Garros semi-finalist in 2009, received lenghty treatment on a sore left knee at the end of the second set before motoring through to prevail with a service winner on his first match point in a shade over three hours.
The 2009 US Open champion started brightly, sprinkling the court with forehand winners to open a 6-2 4-2 lead before seizing up as clay court specialist Montanes fought back to take the second set tiebreak 7-5.
Del Potro, however, regrouped after the trainer strapped his left knee to set up a second-round meeting with home favourite Edouard Roger Vasselin.
The 23-year-old, the only man outside of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer to win a Grand Slam title in the last seven years admitted afterwards that the soaring temperatures were taking their toll.
"I was struggling a little, but I had some good treatment which allowed me to finish the match," said Del Potro.
"Roland Garros is a physically-demanding tournament. I have to keep that in mind as I am playing well at the moment."
Also making the last 64 on the opening day of the 2012 tournament was 2003 winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, who defeated French wildcard Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy 6-1 6-4 6-3.
Ferrero, playing in his 12th Roland Garros, next meets Croatian 21st seed Maran Cilic who defeated Spain's Daniel Munoz 6-4 6-4 7-5.
Stanislas Wawrinka is also through after surviving a scare against Italy's Flavio Cipolla.
The Swiss number two, seeded 18th, looked to be in control when he won the opening two sets against unheralded Italian Flavio Cipolla, but contrived to lose the next two and the match went into a decider.
Wawrinka roared into a 3-0 lead, though, and went on to complete a torturous 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-2 win.
Meanwhile, Andy Roddick exited in the opening round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2007, losing to 88th-ranked Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
The 26th-seeded Roddick, who has never gone past the third round in the Paris grand slam in 10 attempts was broken seven times.
Mahut also fired an impressive 13 aces past former world number one to secure his place in the second round.
The Frenchman, who lost in the first round in Paris eight times in nine previous appearances, spent only two hours and 22 minutes on Suzanne Lenglen, ending Roddick's cameo appearance with a backhand winner down the line.
The 30-year-old will tackle either Canada's Frank Dancevic or Martin Klizan of Slovakia for a place in the last 32.
"Down two sets, it's not where you want to be," said Roddick. "I move horrendously on this stuff, I feel like I am shuffling around. I made a choice to play and I lost."
Roddick said he would skip the Nottingham Challenger next week but play at Queens in the run-up to Wimbledon and the London Olympics.
"I want to play the Olympics," he insisted.
French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame a first set wobble to beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round.
Tsonga will now face Germany's Cedrik-Marcel Stebbe for a place in the third round.
Tsonga has never got beyond the fourth round at the French Open and insisted there is no pressure on him to deliver a first home champion since Yannick Noah 29 years ago.
"I have nothing to lose. I have no points to lose. Last time I lost in the third round. If I was to lose in the first round, I would lose 90 points, so that's peanuts," he said.
"It's not my favourite surface at the moment. Trust me, I'll have more pressure at Wimbledon."
Fernando Verdasco also progressed to the next round thanks to a comfortable straight sets victory against Belgian Steve Darcis.
The Spanish 14th seed came through 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-4).
Italy's Fabio Fognini was a 6-0 7-5 6-1 winner over another Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino, but Edouard Roger-Vasselin gave the home crowd something to cheer by coming from a set down to beat Canada's Vasek Pospisil 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.
Brazilian Joao Souza was forced to retire when trailing 6-3 2-0 and that allowed Cedric-Marcel Stebe of Germany to progress.