Second seed Maria Sharapova of Russia showed no signs of the
shoulder injury that has dogged her for most of this year as she
made a winning start to her French Open campaign yesterday.
She beat France's Emilie Loit 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in 1 hour 50
minutes and will play veteran American Jill Craybas for a place in
the third round.
There were straight set wins also for Sharapova's third seeded
compatriot and last year's beaten finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova who
cruised past another Russian Ekaterina Bychkova 6-0, 6-3 and for
rising Serbian youngster and seventh seed Ana Ivanovic who blasted
past Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-0.
Another Russian, ninth seed Anna Chakvetadze, joined them in the
second round with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-3 win over Alicia Molik of
But there was dismay for the 2004 champion Anastasia Myskina,
whose recent downward spiral continued with a 6-1, 6-0 hammering at
the hands of veteran American Meghann Shaughnessy.
Amelie Mauresmo gave the Parisian crowd something to cheer
following the defeat of men's No.1 Richard Gasquet when she
eliminated Laura Granville of the United States 7-5, 6-0. She next
plays compatriot Nathalie Dechy.
Playing in her first Grand Slam event since turning 20,
Sharapova is badly short of match practice having only returned to
action in Istanbul last week after two months out to treat the
tendonitis pain in her shoulder.
And in Turkey she was gunned down 6-2, 6-4 by French youngster
Aravane Rezai at the semifinal stage.
On top of that the French Open is the Grand Slam tournament that
gives the big-hitting Russian the most problems and she has yet to
get past the quarterfinals in four attempts.
But after breaking the veteran Loit in the third game she was
given a much-needed confidence boost as the French player needed to
take a medical time-out to get treatment for a thigh muscle
On the resumption, Sharapova broke again to move 4-1 up and
though dropping her own service two games later she still
comfortably took the set 6-3.
Clad in three-quarter-length black leggings to combat the cold,
damp conditions, Sharapova was finding that her big-hitting
abilities were neutralised by the slow claycourt.
She dropped her serve in the fifth game after a series of woeful
shots but that stung her into action as she broke back straight
away in the next game to level at 3-3.
Loit served for the set at 6-5 but again that brought the best
out of Sharapova as she hit back strongly to force a tie-break
which she promptly won 7/4.
"My shoulder is sill not where I want it to be but I just love
competing and I have a lot of respect for this tournament. I am
willing to go out there and fight.
"It will be the toughest thing for me to go out there and win
this tournament but I am willing to do it. This is also my
preparation for Wimbledon."
Kuznetsova, who is making a habit of losing finals, four this
year already, said she was determined to adopt a more positive
frame of mind.
"I think I should have won many of those four finals and I
didn't - it was a little bit from the mental side," she said.
"But I think I have changed and hopefully I can prove it."
The rain delays that wrecked the programme on Sunday and Monday
meant that the bottom half of the women's draw was only just
getting underway and with rain threatening once again, there was no
certainty they would all clear the first round by the end of the
Both top seeds, Roger Federer and Justine Henin were due to be
in action later in the day as was Australian Open champion Serena
In the men's championships it was the end of road for former
world No.1 Marat Safin of Russia who lost in straight sets to Janko
Tipsarevic of Serbia and 10th seed Thomas Berdych who fell to
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.
But sixth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia cruised past Santiago
Giraldo of Colombia in straight sets in a first round match held
over from Tuesday as did dangerous outsider Guillermo Canas of
Argentina in a second round match against Simon Bolelli of
(China Daily via AFP May 31, 2007)