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Tennis Players` First Round Jitters in Paris

Posted May. 27, 2003 21:45,   


Roland Garros Stadium, which lies on the outskirts of Paris, where the French Open is taking place, is "notorious" as a sticking point for powerful players. Every year, world tennis stars have sunk in the earlier stages of the Open here. The court slows down power player with its use of red brick powder and clay. Thus, players accustomed to hard courts have a hard time playing on it. This year is not an exception. In the first round, upper-seeded players had to pack up and go home.

Fifth seed Roger Federer lost in straight sets to Peru`s Luis Horna in the first round of the French Open. Federer has recently won one Open on the clay courts, and was counted as one of the strongest candidates for the championships. He also failed in the first round last year in the eighth seed.

Some French magazines have come up with a funny analysis that the misfortune was passed down from Martina Hingis to him. The analysis originated in Hingis` only failure to win the French Open. Other than this, she won the other three of four world major opens.

Federer said in sigh, "Too disappointing. Really sad to leave here so soon. I don`t know how long this sorrow will last."

Thailand`s hero Rainer Schuettler in the tenth seed lost the first round to an unknown player from Slovakia. 139th ranked Galo Blanco (Spain) also beat Alex Corretja of Spain, who moved up to the final in 1998 and 2001.

The same happened to the female players. 27th-seeded Alexandra Stevenson (USA) and 29th-seeded Alina Jidkova (Russia) were stopped in their tracks by lower-seeded players. Last year`s quarterfinal-advancer Mary Pierce also had to pack it up during the first round.

The oldest player Andre Agassi beat Karol Beck (Slovakia), as an exception to the rule. Agassi, who has already won the Australian Open this season, and said, "I`ve been here fifteen times. I had a tough time with the heavy balls. It was heavier than before. The strange balls will bring about another sensation, too."

Aiming at the fifth win of a major, Serena Williams successfully shook off first round jitters and said, "You need leg muscles to win over the slippery clay court."

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com