World No. 1 Roger Federer overcame a difficult start to advance into the third round at the French Open on a day that ended in controversy with players competing in the dark.
Federer weathered a 7-6(4) first set against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla before closing out the match 6-2, 6-4.
“I think he really pushed me to come up with something special, which I couldn’t do in the first set, really,” said Federer, who weathered a rain delay in the second set. “I definitely got a little bit lucky to get out of that one.”
The controversy began when, after play on other courts was halted due to darkness, No. 13 seed Gael Monfils and Italy’s Fabio Fognini were forced to play on at 4-4 in the fifth set after darkness had descended, with tournament officials bowing to the jeers of the crowd for the match to go on.
Serving at 4-4, Fognini refused to begin the game, stopping play for more than five minutes while arguing with the chair umpire and Monfils, but eventually stepped to the service line after receiving a point penalty, starting the game at 0-15. Fognini eventually held a match point with Monfils serving at 4-5, but failed to close it out, and the match was finally halted for the day at 5-5.
Other seeded winners on the day were (5) Robin Soderling who lost only two games against Taylor Dent, (8) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who lost only five games against French countryman Josselin Ouanna, (10) Marin Cilic, (11) Mikhail Youzhny, (12) Tomas Berdych, (20) Stan Wawrinka, and (29) Al Montanes.
No. 32 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was upset in four sets by Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker.
Other matches that were called due to darkness were (4) Andy Murray leading Juan Ignacio Chela by a set and 3-3, (17) John Isner trailing Marco Chiudinelli 6-7(3), 5-5, and Marcel Granollers leading (25) Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Thursday’s chock-full schedule at Roland Garros includes Fognini vs. (13) Monfils (to finish), (7) Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco vs. Florent Serra, Horacio Zeballos vs. (2) Rafael Nadal, (6) Andy Roddick vs. Blaz Kavcic, Kei Nishikori vs. (3) Novak Djokovic, (4) Murray vs. Chela (to finish), (25) Baghdatis vs. Granollers (to finish), Chiudinelli vs. (17) Isner (to finish), (14) Ivan Ljubicic vs. Mardy Fish, and Xavier “X-Man” Malisse vs. (9) David Ferrer.
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