Nadal, Federer, Roddick win openers

Updated: May 25, 2009, 4:40 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- The King of Clay eclipsed another mark Monday, this time breaking the French Open men's record for consecutive wins.

Hot streaks

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal broke the French Open men's record for consecutive wins and equaled the overall tournament record with his 29th.

Longest winning streaks at a
Grand Slam, all-time
Slam Player Streak
'76-81 Wimbledon B. Borg 41
'03-08 Wimbledon R. Federer 40
'04-08 U.S. Open R. Federer 34
'97-01 Wimbledon P. Sampras 31
'05-09 French Open R. Nadal 29
'78-81 French Open B. Borg 28
'85-88 U.S. Open I. Lendl 27

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal looked his usual dominant self in the first round, beating Marcos Daniel of Brazil 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 for his 29th straight win on the red clay at Roland Garros.

"At the beginning, I didn't quite get the best feelings, but I won in three sets. That's very positive," Nadal said. "I should have won more easily ... but it was a difficult match."

Roger Federer, the man Nadal beat in the last three French Open finals, had an easier time in his opening match, defeating Alberto Martin of Spain 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal's win bettered the French Open record held by Bjorn Borg, who won 28 straight from 1978 to '81. Nadal also equaled the overall tournament record, matching the 29 straight that Chris Evert won during 1974-75 and 1979-81. Evert did not play at the French Open from 1976 to '78.

Nadal's accomplishment wasn't exactly heralded with much fanfare. There was no announcement over the loudspeakers, no on-court presentation of a plaque, no wild celebration from the Spaniard. He simply yanked off his yellow head wrap -- the one that matched his neon wristbands and accompanied his bright pink shirt -- and went to the net to shake Daniel's hand.

"It's better than dress the same color every week, no?" Nadal said.

Nadal was broken three times by Daniel, but the top-seeded Spaniard remained perfect on the French Open's red clay as he tries to become the first player to win five straight titles at Roland Garros.

"His backhand is better than his forehand, but I think I made it a bit easy for him," Nadal said. "That's my opinion."

Federer has won 13 major titles, but he still needs to win the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam.

Against Martin, who missed the last two French Open tournaments because of injury and then by failing to qualify, Federer appeared to play effortlessly.

"Once I got the upper hand, things were pretty much in control," Federer said. "I served well when I had to and mixed it up. That's how I want to play. I'm happy to be through without a fright."

The last time Federer had stepped on Court Philippe Chatrier, he was on the receiving end of a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 mauling by Nadal in the final 12 months ago.

On Monday, he refused to think back to that day and instead focused on breaking down his opponent's resistance.

"I didn't even think about last year's match on the same court because I was so much concentrated," said the Swiss world No. 2. "I wanted to do my best. I didn't want to lose my first match."

Federer said his clay-court form this season, during which he has reached the semifinals in Rome and beat Nadal to win his first title of the year in Madrid, has given him the belief that he can win in Paris.

"The [2008] final was very difficult. It was the very last match. But what counts is how you played after in Madrid, Monte Carlo and Rome and on clay surfaces, and what you look at is the matches you've won," said Federer.

"If you've lost, OK, no problem, because between then and now, you have played something like 60 matches, so that was OK today for me," he said.

Also advancing on the men's side were sixth-seeded Andy Roddick of the United States, No. 10 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, No. 17 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 23 Robin Soderling of Sweden, No. 24 Jurgen Melzer of Austria, No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, No. 30 Victor Hanescu of Romania and No. 32 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. No. 19 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic lost to Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.

Roddick beat French wild-card entry Romain Jouan 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to win a match at the French Open for the first time since 2005.

"I'm just glad I finally won a match out there," said Roddick, who won the last of his five clay-court titles in 2005.

The 26-year-old's biggest weapon has always been his thunderbolt serve, but the American is first to admit that on clay it fails to do much damage.

Under the guidance of coach Larry Stefanki, Roddick has made some adjustments to his delivery on clay and hopes it will pay dividends this year.

[+] EnlargeRafael Nadal
AP Photo/Christophe EnaFour-time defending champ Rafael Nadal won his 29th consecutive match at Roland Garros.

"On most courts, if I hit my spots with my good serves, I feel pretty good about where I'm standing in the point or I've already won it. On clay it's not the case," said Roddick, who interrupted his preparation to marry model Brooklyn Decker last month.

"Something Larry wants me to do is show the kick a little bit more, and he thinks that will make my bigger serve a little bit more effective. Today it was coming off. It was warm out today so the kick was jumping around pretty good," he said.

Despite overcoming the first-round hurdle, Roddick was realistic about his chances of ending the American men's six-year drought in Paris.

"I know there is more of a ceiling at this event for me probably than any other event," said the 2003 U.S. Open champion. "That being said, it is one of my goals to make a second week here. I feel that's a feasible goal and something that I'm surprised I haven't done to this point in my career.

"I feel like if you take this tournament out of the equation, my record on clay has actually been better than a lot of specialists. So I would like to progress further here," he said.

Roddick will next face Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.