Cirstea couldn't keep up the pressure after winning the first three games [GALLO/GETTY]

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova secured her place in the second round of the French Open at Roland Garros after shrugging off miserable clay-court form.

The sixth seed recovered from a terrible start, losing the first three games, to kick off her Paris campaign with a 6-3 6-1 win over Romanian Sorana Cirstea on Sunday.

"It was surprising for me, because I felt I had been preparing and giving my best in practice, and I was not having as good results as I would have liked," Kuznetsova said on Sunday.

"But I knew this moment had to pass because I deserve better than that, and I worked harder than these results. I was just concerned about when it was going to pass."

Last season Kuznetsova, 24, compiled an imperious 17-3 claycourt record on the European swing before bursting through the pack to claim her second Grand Slam crown in Paris.

This time round her record was a paltry 1-3, losing her last three matches before arriving in Paris, and a fourth consecutive defeat on the slowest surface loomed when she dropped the first three games.

Sunsoaked

But she got her act together to see off the world number 34 on a sunsoaked centre court where close friend Amelie Mauresmo was watching from the stands.

She clinched nine games in a row after the shaky opening, wrapping it up on her second match point with a backhand passing shot.

Kuznetsova will face German Andrea Petkovic in the second round.

Last year's men's finalist Robin Soderling of Sweden beat Frenchman Laurent Recouderc 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 to cruise into the second round.

The fifth-seeded Soderling lost only five points in the first set and won the first nine games in Paris on Sunday.

Recouderc called a trainer while trailing 5-2 in the second set to receive treatment for a blister problem on his right hand but couldn't hold his serve when he returned to the court.

Source: Agencies