Sunday, May 25, 2008

French Open: First Round Begins in Paris

Virginie Razzano eyes the ball from Czech player Klara Zakopalova serves to during the first round of the French Tennis Open, at Roland Garros, in Paris, on May 25, 2008. Zakopalova won 6-4, 3-6, 2-6.
French Open: First Round Begins in Paris

The Sunday start at Roland Garros provided some drama but for the most part the favorites had a successful day, as first round action began on the terre battue of the second Grand Slam event of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season.

Two of the seven seeds in action weren't still standing at the end of the day, most notably No.15 seed Nicole Vaidisova, who continued her recent slump with a 76(2) 61 defeat to qualifier and good friend Iveta Benesova. Benesova had a solid performance but the loss may have been more a function of inconsistency on Vaidisova's side, as the former Top 10 star sprayed 38 errors to just nine winners to extend her Sony Ericsson WTA Tour losing streak to six matches. It was Benesova's fourth career Top 20 win, following previous victories against Silvia Farina, Vera Zvonareva and Mary Pierce. Virginie Razzano was the other seed to fall; the No.24 seed lost to Klara Zakopalova, 46 63 62.

"Iveta played a really good match," Vaidisova said. "It's always hard to play your best friend. She started the tie-break well, and I just have to give her credit. I looked to my box for support. I always do that and I did it today."

"The key point of the first set was the tie-break; I started well and it just went from there," Benesova declared. "I knew I had to attack. I was going for the big shots, and it was working. After a difficult first game in the second set I played well again, and I don't think she was as focused in that set."

Second seed Ana Ivanovic and fifth seed Serena Williams, who are projected to meet in the quarterfinals, both began their 2008 Roland Garros campaigns with straight set wins. Ivanovic held on in the second set to beat Sofia Arvidsson, 62 75, in the first match of the day.

"I'm very happy with the victory; it was very nice to come back here to Paris and go out there and play again," Ivanovic stated. "She gave me a tough match, especially in the second set. I let my intensity go down and she used it, and she started playing much better. But toward the end I'm happy I found my game and managed to break her back, and win the second set."

Williams crushed countrywoman Ashley Harkleroad later on in the day, 62 61.

"I'm definitely happy with the result today; I could have played better but I just want to work my way into the tournament," Williams said. "I have lots of matches under my belt from the clay court season. It is better than coming in with just one or two matches, especially on the clay."

No.19-seeded French hope Alizé Cornet beat Julia Vakulenko, 75 64, No.28 seed Dominika Cibulkova dismissed Angelique Kerber, 62 62, and No.30 seed Caroline Wozniacki crushed Yvonne Meusburger, 60 62.

Winners of matches between unseeded players were Lucie Safarova, Ekaterina Makarova, Nathalie Dechy, Milagros Sequera, Galina Voskoboeva, qualifiers Selima Sfar and Anastasiya Yakimova and wildcard Mathilde Johansson. The match between Gisela Dulko and Sara Errani was suspended due to darkness, with Italy's Errani leading, 46 64 31.

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AP Photo/David Vincent


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