PARIS — Back in 2006, when the French Open switched to a Sunday start, tournament officials asked Roger Federer if he'd be willing to play on that earlier-than-usual Day 1.
He said no – and they went ahead and put him on the schedule, anyway. Federer made clear afterward that he was none too pleased.
The French Open remains the only Grand Slam tennis tournament that begins on a Sunday, stretching 15 days, and there was 2009 champion Federer at the outset of the 2013 edition, a little less grumpy about being on Court Philippe Chatrier as first-round play commenced. Federer beat Spanish qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 without a hitch.
"I told them if they wanted me to play Sunday, whatever, I'm fine with it," the second-seeded Federer said with a smile. "They took that opportunity right away."
Seven years ago, the thought of getting on court on the extra day bothered him a lot more.
"I remember they sort of forced me to play on Sunday years back to promote their Sunday thing," Federer said. "I was against it, just because I felt like the way they got the Sunday (at) first was (by saying), `Maybe, oh, let's try it out.' Next thing you know, they have it for a lifetime or what? Is that how it works? So I didn't agree with how things went along."
Perhaps still not completely in love with the idea, Federer pointed out that Wimbledon manages to complete its tournament in 13 days, taking the middle Sunday off.
"So it doesn't make sense," he began, before changing course a bit and adding: "But I do understand that a weekend for tennis is very important for the people who can show up. ... It is very odd that we do start the (normal) tournament week on a Monday, where everybody goes back to work."
Whatever the day, the 31-year-old Federer always shows up for work at Grand Slam time. He is at Roland Garros for the 15th year in a row, and is competing in his 54th consecutive major tournament, a streak that stretches to January 2000.
He's won 17 of those, a record.
Federer earned a big roar from crowd after he closed out his victory over the 164th-ranked Carreno Busta with a picturesque backhand winner. Federer lost only seven points on his first serve and was broken just once.
Carreno Busta, meanwhile, was participating in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time and found himself a bit overwhelmed by the moment – not to mention the opponent.
When he initially learned he's been drawn to face Federer, Carreno Busta recalled, "My first thought was `What bad luck!' I wanted to win and move ahead in the tournament and improve my ranking, and playing against someone like Federer is going to make that difficult. But as I thought about it more ... I tried to appreciate it."
He won seven low-level events on the Futures circuit this season, but needless to say, the skill required Sunday was a notch – or two or more – above.
"The level," Carreno Busta said, "was really different."
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich