Roland Garros: Federer d. Carreno-Busta

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Nobody wants to lose their first Grand Slam match in straight sets, but it must be some consolation if that defeat comes at the hands of Roger Federer, even if he didn’t have to break much of a sweat. Pablo Carreno-Busta’s introduction to the big stage was short and not particularly sweet as Federer sailed through, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, in an hour and 20 minutes.

With the prospect of bad weather looming, Federer wanted to get his opening match under his belt in as trouble-free a manner as possible, and with the exception of perhaps a few too many backhand errors, his performance was exemplary. Carreno-Busta spent the early part of this year romping through Futures tournaments in Spain before reaching the semifinals in Portugal last month, and at 21 is the first young Spaniard to make any sort of impression as their current golden generation continues to age. But he was clearly out of his league against Federer, who broke serve in the very first game of the match with an inside-out forehand winner down the line, and didn’t look back until he broke Carreno-Busta again with a scintillating backhand winner down the line for the match.

Carreno-Busta’s quick footwork is promising, as is his ambition in constructing points, and his best spell of the match came late in the first set. After falling behind 0-5, he put together several forehand sequences which caught Federer off guard, breaking back as the 2009 champ put a fairly routine forehand approach long, then produced his first hold of the match before Federer served out the set on his second attempt.

Whatever momentum Carreno-Busta might have generated, however, slipped away as he fell back from 40-15 while serving to open the second, and was broken as a netcord went against him. Federer would not wobble again, finding it increasingly simple to maneuver Carreno-Busta around the court and clearly in no mood to show mercy, converting all seven of the break points he earned. The young qualifier simply doesn’t have the weight of shot yet to be able to pressure a player like Federer (assuming there are any), and as a consequence the Swiss had ample time to run around his backhand at will. It was not a winning formula for the Spaniard, especially when the unforced errors Federer did give up—trying to be too cute on the occasional volley, not returning quite as well as you would expect against Carreno Busta’s unimaginative serving—remained isolated exceptions to otherwise relaxed and easeful play.

It can be argued that it isn’t good to win too easily in the early rounds, and Federer’s next opponent will be a qualifier too, but with stormy weather ahead there’s nothing wrong with conserving energy and intensity for later, tougher matches. The second seed will be as happy as any player to have done so.

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