Azarenka avoids the curse of world No 1 as Robson falls

 

Victoria Azarenka has enjoyed so much success since the start of this year that she has yet to face the jibes that are often aimed at female world No 1s. It helps, of course, that the 22-year-old from Belarus has won a Grand Slam title, which three of her recent predecessors who topped the rankings – Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki – had not.

Nevertheless, when Azarenka trailed Italy's Alberta Brianti, the world No 105, by a set and 4-0 in the first round of the French Open yesterday, it seemed the curse of the world No 1 was about to strike again. No top seed has lost in the first round of the women's singles here.

Azarenka had been spraying the ball to all corners of Court Philippe-Chatrier, but five points from defeat she finally got her game and her head together. The match was never pretty – 104 of the 201 points were decided by unforced errors, 60 of them from Azarenka – but the world No 1 looked much more comfortable by the end of her 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

"Bad days happen," Azarenka said. "The first match, they're not easy, but at the end of the day I managed to get through those 60 mistakes and still win the match. I was waiting quite a long time here for my first match, so I couldn't wait to get out there. Maybe I was rushing so much to finish the point or I was a little burned out before the match, but these things happen. Plus, I have to give her a lot of credit. She played really well and she pushed me to dig deep."

Azarenka, who became world No 1 by winning this year's Australian Open, will no doubt be aware that the last five Grand Slam titles have been won by five players. One is Li Na (below), the defending champion here, who beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-1.

Jankovic, who has dropped out of the top 20, beat Austria's Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. The Serb had made first-round exits in her previous four clay-court tournaments.

Laura Robson's French Open debut ended in a 6-2, 6-1 defeat by an experienced clay-courter, Anabel Medina Garrigues. Robson, who lost in the last round of qualifying but took a place in the main draw after a withdrawal, failed to take any of four break points. Medina Garrigues, the world No 31, converted four of five.

"I definitely think that I should have taken the opportunities on the break points," Robson said. "But it's hard to know what to do on those points, especially against someone as experienced as her. I could have just stepped back and made the ball, but then the reason I had the break points in the first place was because I was playing aggressively. It's a very fine line and something that needs to be worked on. I'm sure I'll get it in the end."

While clay is a major challenge for Robson, whose movement has always been her weak point, the 18-year-old Briton has a big-hitting game that can bring major rewards on grass. She is looking forward to playing at Nottingham, Edgbaston and Eastbourne in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Robson hopes to return to the All England Club for the Olympics, but may have a better chance of a wild card in doubles rather than singles. The 2008 junior Wimbledon champion will play doubles in the grass-court season with Heather Watson, the 2009 US Open junior champion. Watson and Anne Keothavong play their first matches here today, against Elena Vesnina and Melinda Czink respectively.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn