PARIS: Roger Federer cruised into the French Open second round Sunday before having to quickly sidestep a spectator who breached tight security to race towards the Swiss legend on the showpiece Philippe Chatrier Court.
Federer, the 2009 champion and seeded two this year, began his 62nd consective Grand Slam with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Colombian ‘lucky loser’ Alejandro Falla.
It was Federer’s eighth win in eight matches against Falla and he goes on to face either Spain’s Marcel Granollers or Mathias Bachinger of Germany for a place in the last 32.
He fired 43 winners in his 1hr 50min stroll and looked more concerned when a fan sprinted from the stands and past muscular security guards in an effort to grab a ‘selfie’ with the 17-time major winner.
Although the 33-year-old Federer was not harmed and the fan was prevented from reaching his target, the incident will lead to more questions over security at the event which has endured similar court invasions in the past.
Federer, one of a record 39 men over 30 in the first round, is desperate to make the most of a kind draw which dumped top seed Novak Djokovic, nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and third seed Andy Murray all in the opposite half.
As a result, he can only face one of his main rivals for the title in the June 7 final and not before.
Federer’s Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka, the eighth seed, took just 96 minutes to make the second round, seeing off Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.
Wawrinka, who made the last-eight in 2013, goes on to face either Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic or Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina in the next round.
Romania’s Simona Halep, the 2014 runner-up and third seed, saw off Russian world number 91 Evgeniya Rodina 7-5, 6-4 and next faces Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, the Croatian player who knocked her out of the US Open last year.
“It’s not easy to start a new tournament but I am happy to be back in Paris where I have so many great memories from last year,” said the 23-year-old Halep who was broken three times and committed 26 unforced errors.
Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori is also in action on Sunday against Paul-Henri Mathieu, the 33-year-old Frenchman, now ranked at 123 and who has won just one tour match all year.
Nishikori has yet to get beyond the fourth round in Paris but retained his claycourt title in Barcelona this year as well as making the semi-finals in Madrid.
He also has the added benefit of 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang as coach.
Serbian seventh seed Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, starts her campaign against Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, a quarter-finalist in 2010 and 2012.
In other standout matches on the first day, Ernests Gulbis, who knocked Federer out of the competition last year on his way to the semi-finals, faces Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.
Gulbis has just two wins all year to his name.
French 14th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semi-finalist in 2013, takes on Swedish qualifier Christian Lindell, the world number 200 who is making his Grand Slam debut.
In other early matches on Sunday, German 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber saw off Japan’s Go Soeda 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 while volatile Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a quarter-finalist in 2010, retired with a back injury after dropping the first two sets against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur.
Cyprus’s Marcos Baghdatis accounted for the first seeded victim, putting out Ivo Karlovic, the 25th seed from Croatia, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4
In the women’s singles, Russian ninth seed Ekaterina Makarova breezed past US wildcard Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-2.
Spanish 21st seed Garbine Muguruza, who shocked Serena Williams in the second round last year, beat Croatian qualifier Petra Martic 6-2, 7-5 and next faces Italy’s Camila Giorgi.