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PARIS (AP) — 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 Wednesday.
Top-ranked Serena Williams also showed staying power, extending her career-best winning streak to 26 matches by beating wild card Caroline Garcia of France, 6-1, 6-2.
While Williams looks unbeatable of late, 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.
“I tried to finish the match quite quickly, because I was afraid it would rain,” Federer said. “So I was very focused, and I’m very happy for that.”
The No. 2-seeded 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.
He 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.
When Federer finally took the Roland Garros title in 2009, Federer completed a career Grand Slam and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major titles. He now seeks a record 18th major title, and his first since Wimbledon last year.
Through two rounds, both against qualifiers, Federer has lost only 11 games.
“I’m happy that I was playing offensive and aggressive tennis in the first two matches,” he said. “I didn’t back off and start to play passive tennis and wait for mistakes. I took it to my opponent.”
Williams has dropped just four games so far. She played the day’s final match and finished in a hurry, committing only nine unforced errors never facing a break point.
“It’s important for me to win easily,” she said. “It’s also important for me to play well. If I play well, it will bode well for me at Roland Garros.”
Speaking French to the crowd during a post-match interview, Williams was asked what she plans to work on in practice.
“I’d like to improve everything. My French, too,” she said, laughing.
The No. 1-ranked Williams seeks her first French Open title since 2002. She last reached the semifinal in 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.
While Williams and Federer savored their latest successes, Jamie Hampton earned her first career French Open victory, an upset of No. 25 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5), 3-6, 9-7. With her win, American women finished the first round 10-5.
Also part of the resurgence in U.S. fortunes was No. 29 Varvara Lepchenko, who reached the third round by whacking 22 forehand winners to defeat Elina Svitolina 7-6 (5), 6-1.
“A couple years ago, we weren’t even in the scene,” Hampton said. “There wasn’t even a group of us. We’ve progressed, and I think the whole group will continue to progress. We’ve all got really good games. We’re just trying to find our way on the clay right now.”
Three Americans did stumble in the second round — Madison Keys, Mallory Burdette and Shelby Rogers. Keys was beaten in the twilight by Monica Puig 6-4, 7-6 (2), Burdette lost to No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-2, and Rogers squandered a lead against No. 20 Carla Suarez Navarro, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
American Sam Querrey, seeded 18th, reached the third round at Roland Garros for the first time by sweeping Jan Hajek 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
The day began with No. 3 Victoria Azarenka filling a mostly empty stadium court with her familiar shrieks as she 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.
“I felt like I’m one of the last ones to start,” she said. “It was a long wait, but I think performance-wise it was a good match.”
Azarenka waited in vain to play for much of the day on a rainy Tuesday, but said she wasn’t flustered by the delay.
“I just really was chilling the whole day, watching ‘The Voice,’” she said. “It was incredible. I was so entertained. There’s this girl, her name is Judith. She was a duet singer with Michael Jackson. She’s absolutely incredible. I mean, I have no idea how sounds like that can come out of somebody’s mouth. It’s just, wow.”
Fans might say the same thing about Azarenka, who wore down Vesnina with her noisy but steady baseline game, committing only 13 unforced errors.
Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up to Maria Sharapova, beat Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-1. Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki lost to Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (2), 6-3.
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.