Victorious Ferrer takes it step by step at French Open

The seventh-seed has no problems advancing to the second round of the French Open, defeating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

David Ferrer, who beat Jarkko Nieminen yesterday, has never lost in the first round in Paris.
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PARIS // Marin Cilic became the first seeded player to be eliminated from the French Open, losing to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday in the first round.

The 19th-seeded Cilic, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, is a former top-10 player, but he had 67 unforced errors in the match and was broken five times.

Ramirez Hidalgo earned only his fourth win in 15 grand-slam tournaments. Besides reaching the fourth round at the 2006 French Open, the Spaniard lost in the first round in each of his other 13 appearances at the four biggest tennis tournaments.

"It's my greatest victory this season, that's for sure," the 33-year-old Ramirez Hidalgo said. "I would not say this is the beginning of a new career, because I'm too old for this, but it's a kind of relief."

The seventh-seeded David Ferrer had no such problems, advancing to the second round by defeating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to maintain his record of having never failed to get beyond the first round.

Ferrer, 29, who was runner-up to Rafael Nadal on clay at Monte Carlo and Barcelona this year, will tackle either France's Julien Benneteau or Rui Machado of Portugal for a place in the last 32.

"I always hope I get good performances in Paris. I think you need to take it step by step, one match after the other, because all matches are different," said Ferrer, twice a quarter-finalist.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No 17, of France, No 30 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and No 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine also advanced. Also making the next round was the 14th-seeded Swiss Stanilas Wawrinka. Japan's Kei Nishikori, with Andre Agassi's former coach Brad Gilbert in his corner, won the all-Asian battle with Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun, claiming a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win.

The French Open is the only grand slam event to start on a Sunday, and there were 32 matches scheduled on eight courts.

Less than an hour before play began, two-time grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt withdrew.

The Australian, who was one of only five men in the draw with a grand-slam singles title, has not played since March because of foot surgery. He was replaced by Marc Gicquel, one of nine French men playing yesterday.

Gicquel lost to Albert Montanes of Spain 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Spain's success was completed by Pere Riba, who beat Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. The four remaining grand slam winners in the men's draw are five-time French Open winner Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.

Djokovic, Federer and Del Potro are expected to play today, while Nadal is scheduled to start his tournament tomorrow.