AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — The modern day King of Clay eclipsed another mark Monday, this time breaking the French Open men's record for consecutive wins.
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.
The win bettered the mark held by Bjorn Borg, who won 28 straight from 1978-81. Nadal also equaled the overall tournament record, matching the 29 straight that Chris Evert won between 1974-75 and 1979-81. Evert did not play at the French Open from 1976-78.
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.
"You always start with some nerves," Nadal said before walking off center court. "I'm very happy with the win and to advance to the second round."
Dinara Safina, the top-seeded player in the women's draw, and No. 3 Venus Williams also advanced. Safina routed Anne Keothavong of Britain 6-0, 6-0 by spraying shots to all parts of the court.
"I was just playing point by point, game by game, and it ended up like this," said Safina, half of the only brother-sister combination alongside Marat Safin to have served as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
On the men's side, 10th-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, No. 23 Robin Soderling of Sweden and No. 30 Victor Hanescu of Romania advanced.
Later Monday, three-time French Open finalist Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova were scheduled to play.
Keothavong had a couple of chances against Safina on center court, but she wasted two break points in the third game of the first set, and led 40-0 in the fourth game of the second but couldn't hold on.
"When that's happening to you all you want to do is get on the scoreboard, but I wasn't able to do that," Keothavong said. "It just kept getting harder and harder."
During the changeover for the final game, Keothavong sat in her chair with a French Open towel draped over her head. She emerged from the short break and quickly trailed 0-40, giving Safina three match points.
But Keothavong saved them all, on unforced errors from Safina, and even held two game points.
Safina wasted a fourth match point by hitting long and converted the fifth with a forehand winner down the line.
"After I (shook) her hand, she said: 'At least you could give me one game,'" Safina said. "I could imagine it's not nice to feel (like that) on the court, but I was just so into myself."
Victoria Azarenka and Ana Ivanovic won 6-0, 6-0 at the French Open last year, and Serena Williams did it in 2003.
Safina took over as the top-ranked women's player in April, but she has yet to win a Grand Slam title. She lost in last year's French Open final, and also came within a match of winning the Australian Open this season.
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, survived a sudden second-set slump to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. She won the match's first five games, while Mattek asked for a medical time-out during the first set so a trainer could look at her right wrist.
Williams has never won the French Open, but she did reach the final in 2002 when she lost to little sister Serena. Overall, Williams holds a 36-12 record at Roland Garros, giving her the most wins of any player in the women's draw at the tournament.
Williams was upset in the third round in three of the last four years. In 2006, she reached the quarterfinals.
No. 15 Zheng Jie of China, No. 22 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and No. 29 Agnes Szavay of Hungary also advanced to the second round of the women's tournament, but No. 23 Alisa Kleybanova of Russia was upset by Polona Hercoq of Slovenia 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.