Sharapova breezes through first round

Defending French Open champion opens campaign with ruthless performance as Gael Monfils upsets Tomas Berdych.

    Sharapova breezes through first round
    Sharapova surrendered just eight points on serve in her 54 minute victory [AFP]

    Defending women's champion Maria Sharapova needed only 54 minutes to advance to the second round at the French Open, beating Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-1.

    The No. 2-seeded Sharapova lost eight points in eight service games against hapless world number 42 and will next face Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard.

    Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam in Paris in 2012, fired 25 winners to Hsieh's eight and kept her unforced errors to just four against 24.

    The Russian second seed had her match shifted to Court Suzanne Lenglen while Monfils and Berdych slugged it out on Court Philippe Chatrier.

    "I wanted to finish tonight; it was a good decision to switch courts especially when I saw the guys were still playing," she said.

    Sharapova was joined in the next round by three former champions - Li Na, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone.

    Li, the 2011 champion, enjoyed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues, the experienced Spaniard playing in her 38th consecutive Grand Slam event.

    Li, who had lost all of her three previous meetings on clay against Garrigues, goes on to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States.

    Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, put out fellow Russian, the 22nd seeded Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 6-2.

    Italy's Schiavone, the 2010 title winner, saw off Hungary's Melinda Czink 6-0, 7-6 (7/1).

    Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who has never got beyond the last 16, breezed past Israel's Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-1 and will face America's Mallory Burdette in the next round.

    She is scheduled to face younger sister Urszula, who knocked out Venus Williams on Sunday, in the third round.

    Upset

    Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych was the biggest casualty of the day when the 2010 semi-finalist fell to French wildcard Gael Monfils.

    Monfils, whose career has been plagued recently by a knee injury, triumphed 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-7 (4/7), 7-5 in a shade over four hours.

    The flamboyant 26-year-old Frenchman, a semi-finalist in 2008, will next tackle in-form Ernests Gulbis.

    "There was the adrenaline and the match and the crowd, but I didn't think I would do this well," said Monfils, who was fresh from a runners-up place in Nice at the weekend.

    "It was a match up there in my top five."

    Elsewhere in the men's event, French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is looking to become the first home player to win the men's title since Yannick Noah in 1983, started confidently enough with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia.

    "My groundstrokes pretty solid from the baseline. I played pretty well, but my service was really low quality," said Tsonga.

    SOURCE: AFP


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