PARIS: Andy Roddick refused to offer any excuses after being sent packing in the first round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 defeat against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut yesterday.
The 26th-seeded Roddick, who has never gone past the third round of the Paris Grand Slam in 10 attempts, could not even blame his exit on being outfoxed by a claycourt specialist.
"It's not his favourite surface either," Roddick admitted during a news conference.
Instead he went down to the man who will long be remembered for his record 11-hour five-minute tussle with American John Isner on the green grass of Wimbledon in 2010.
Mahut fired 13 aces past former world number one Roddick to secure his place in the second round.
Yesterday, he spent only two hours and 22 minutes on Court Suzanne Lenglen, ending Roddick's cameo appearance with a backhand winner down the line.
The American, who had not played for two months between the Miami Masters and last week's World Team Championship in Duesseldorf because of a hip injury, refused to wallow in self pity.
"I'm not going to talk about this tonight, guys. I lost a match to a guy who played better than I did. We can ask it in as many different ways as we want," said the American.
"I'm going to not discuss it. I made a choice. I played. I'm fine. I lost.
"I move just horrendously out here. My first step is just so bad on this stuff. I feel like I'm always shuffling or hopping or not stopping or something. So my footwork on this stuff now is just really bad."
Meanwhile, Venus Williams tamed a plucky teenaged fan who once emailed her for playing tips.
For Williams, who returned to the tennis tour in March after being diagnosed with a fatigue-inducing blood disorder, her tortuous 4-6 6-1 6-3 win over 120th-ranked Argentine Paula Ormaechea on a sparsely-populated showcourt was a far cry from her heyday.
The winner of seven Grand Slams, including five Wimbledon titles, struggled to hold her own serve as Ormaechea, 19, refused to go quietly.
Williams found some of her old strength of mind to break the Argentine to love in the ninth game of the deciding set and take the victory, but her next task could be a hard one - she could face third-seeded Pole Agnieska Radwanska who plays lowly Serbian Bojana Jovanovski today.
"She played beautifully," Williams said of Ormaechea, who grew up idolising the Williams sisters. "I was mostly hoping that my experience would help me out."
Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the second round, giving the French fans some cheer after wildcard Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy had lost a brave battle against 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain earlier in the day.
Tsonga, the highest seed in action on a low-key opening day, had to pull himself together after a sluggish start to beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Tsonga, who will now face Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany, said he always found the first match of a big event hard.
"Very often I have difficulties, I have to find my bearings," he told a news conference. "All players could tell you that practising has nothing to do with an official match. When you start a tournament, you don't have your bearings on the court."
Ferrero, who at the age of 32 already has one eye on life after tennis with a hotel and other interests, beat Dasnieres de Veigy 6-1 6-4 6-3 on a sunny Suzanne Lenglen Court and will now meet Croatian Marin Cilic.
Ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina needed treatment on his left knee before he beat Spain's Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1.
Del Potro said the injury had been bothering him since the Madrid Open semi-finals a fortnight ago and he was glad to get his first Paris match over quickly.
"I will have two days to work with the physio on my knee. So I have time to recover and be in good shape for the next match," he said.
Australian Samantha Stosur also had bad memories of Madrid, where she disliked the new, blue clay, and was glad to be back at Roland Garros.
"It's nice to be on a real clay court again," the sixth seed said after dismissing Briton Elena Baltacha 6-4 6-0 in little more than an hour.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic, seeded 13th, was even swifter in dispatching Spanish qualifier Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino 6-1, 6-1.
The women's defending champion Li Na of China will be in action on a busier day today, when men's world number one Novak Djokovic and 16-times grand-slam winner Roger Federer will also take to the showcourts.
DAY ONE RESULTS
Men's singles (1st round, prefix number denotes seedings): Nicolas Mahut (France) bt 26-Andy Roddick (US) 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-2; 5-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) bt Andrey Kuznetsov (Russia) 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-4; Nicolas Devilder (France) bt Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) 6-2 6-2 6-0; Pablo Andujar (Spain) bt Victor Hanescu (Romania) 6-1 2-6 1-6 6-3 6-1; 14-Fernando Verdasco (Spain) bt Steve Darcis (Belgium) 6-3 6-2 7-6(4); 18-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) bt Flavio Cipolla (Italy) 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-2; 9-Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) bt Albert Montanes (Spain) 6-2 6-7(5) 6-2 6-1; Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) bt Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2; Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spain) bt Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy (France) 6-1 6-4 6-3; Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (Germany) bt Joao Souza (Brazil) 6-3 2-0 (Souza retired); 21-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt Daniel Munoz (Spain) 6-4 6-4 7-5; Fabio Fognini (Italy) bt Adrian Mannarino (France) 6-0 7-5 6-1.
Women's singles (1st round, prefix denotes seeding): Alexa Glatch (US) bt Anna Tatishvili (Georgia) 6-3 5-7 6-4; Dinah Pfizenmaier (Germany) bt Caroline Garcia (France) 3-6 6-4 6-3; Mathilde Johansson (France) bt Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) 5-7 7-6(6) 6-4; Venus Williams (US) bt Paula Ormaechea (Argentina) 4-6 6-1 6-3; Irena Pavlovic (France) bt Chang Kai-Chen (Taiwan) 6-4 7-5; Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) bt Heidi El Tabakh (Canada) 7-5 6-2; Shahar Peer (Israel) bt Stephanie Dubois (Canada) 6-2 6-2; 13-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) bt Lara Arruabarrena (Spain) 6-1 6-1; 21-Sara Errani (Italy) bt Casey Dellacqua (Australia) 4-6 6-2 6-2; 10-Angelique Kerber (Germany) bt Zhang Shuai (China) 6-3 6-4; Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Spain) bt Eva Birnerova (Czech Republic) 4-6 6-4 8-6; Irina Falconi (US) bt Edina Gallovits-Hall (Romania) 3-6 6-3 6-1; Melanie Oudin (US) bt Johanna Larsson (Sweden) 6-3 6-3; 26-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) bt Mirjana Lucic (Croatia) 6-1 6-3; 20-Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) bt Anastasiya Yakimova (Belarus) 6-2 6-0; 6-Samantha Stosur (Australia) beat Elena Baltacha (Britain) 6-4 6-0.