PARIS – Martina Navratilova hit an ace Tuesday, a nifty achievement for a 47-year-old player at the French Open. She needed more than one.
Navratilova’s Roland Garros comeback lasted barely an hour, ending with an opening-round loss to Gisela Dulko, 6-1, 6-3. The match was Navratilova’s first in Grand Slam singles since 1994.
“I had some moments of brilliance,” Navratilova said. “But they were few and far between, unfortunately.”
The left-hander employed the same serve-and-volley tactics that helped her win 18 major singles titles, but she was often a step slow. Often left lunging, Navratilova won just 10 of 22 points at the net, struggled with her serve and was broken five times.
In the twenty-something division, Serena and Venus Williams advanced easily.
No. 2-seeded Serena, jeered the last time she played at Roland Garros, drew applause after beating Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-2. No. 4 Venus looked tentative at times in her first match since being sidelined May 9 by an ankle injury, but she still defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-2, 6-4.
No. 7 Jennifer Capriati rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the final set to beat Yulia Beygelzimer 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
On the men’s side, top-ranked Roger Federer ended his two-year French Open losing streak by beating Kristof Vliegen 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
Federer lost in the opening round at Roland Garros to Hicham Arazi in 2002 and to Luis Horna in 2003. But he dominated from the start against Vliegen, who lost in qualifying and made the draw only when another player withdrew.
Defending champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, who has been taking painkiller injections for sore ribs, rallied to beat Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Fabrice Santoro won the longest match – by time – in the Open era, beating fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14. The 6-hour, 33-minute marathon actually took two days because darkness forced a suspension Monday at 5-all in the fifth set.
Three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten, seeded 28th, needed 3 hours to beat qualifier Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 7-6 (2), 1-6, 3-6, 7-5.
Dulko, 19, was born the year after Navratilova won the second of her two French Open titles in 1984.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.