Roger Federer walked onto Court Suzanne Lenglen, smiled when greeted with applause and looked up into the stands, where three youngsters waved a banner that read, 'Roger 4 Ever.'
Forever? Probably not, but Federer easily outlasted qualifier Somdev Devvarman in the second round of the French Open, winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 on Wednesday.
As a sign of his staying power, Federer moved ahead of Budge Patty into third place on the men's list for match victories at Roland Garros with 56.
Guillermo Vilas and Nicola Pietrangeli share the record of 58.
Seeded second behind Novak Djokovic, Federer has yet to win a tournament this year, the first time he has arrived at Roland Garros without a title since 2000. But he's rested and healthy, and his vast repertoire of shots was on full display against the overmatched Devvarman, who is ranked 188th and now 0-9 against top-10 players.
Federer glided across the clay, hitting winners from all over the court - even beyond the alleys - and looking at ease on a surface that once vexed him. When he finally took the Roland Garros title in 2009, Federer completed a career Grand Slam and equaled Pete Sampras' record of 14 major titles.
He now seeks a record 18th major title, and his first since Wimbledon last year.
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No. 3 Victoria Azarenka filled a mostly empty stadium court with her familiar shrieks and beat Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in a first-round match postponed one day because of rain. That meant Azarenka reached the second round 72 hours after some players.
Serena Williams extended her winning streak to 26 matches beating wild card Caroline Garcia of France, 6-1, 6-2.
Playing the day's final match on center court, Williams committed only nine unforced errors never faced a break point. Through two rounds she has lost only four games.
| Williams is now 26 matches without loss as she looks for second French Open victory [Reuters]
The No. 1-ranked Williams seeks her first French Open title since 2002. She hasn't reached the semifinal since 2003.
Since losing in the first round a year ago at Roland Garros, Williams is 69-3, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the London Olympics and the season-ending WTA Championships.
In other men's second-round play, No. 4 David Ferrer broke serve eight times and beat fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France eliminated Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-3.
No. 10 Marin Cilic defeated 18-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 24 Benoit Paire of France delighted a partisan crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen by rallying past Marcos Baghdatis in a rain-interrupted first-round match, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-4.
The 24-year-old Paire acknowledged the pressure of being seeded at Roland Garros, where no Frenchman has won the title since 1983.
"Many TV channels are following me now," he said.
"Also, in the past I could walk around with my parents and watch a few matches. It's no longer the case. People now tend to recognize me. It's Roland Garros, you know. They want me to go far. Does that mean more pressure on me? Yeah."