Ivanovic in the pink after clearing opening hurdle

In the final women's match at Roland Garros last year Ana Ivanovic froze in the heat of a glorious June afternoon and lost the final against Justine Henin in front of a capacity crowd. When Ivanovic walked out on to a largely empty Court Philippe Chatrier for the first match of the 2008 French Open here yesterday the skies were grey and the air was cool, but she quickly warmed to her task.

If a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Sofia Arvidsson was no less than the world No 2 should have expected against a player ranked 50 places below her, this was just the start Ivanovic needed. The 20-year-old Serb is among those best placed to take advantage of Henin's abrupt retirement, but losing to Tsvetana Pironkova, the world No 64, in the opening match of her final warm-up event in Rome less than a fortnight ago was not the best preparation.

Ivanovic, her salmon-pink dress almost matching the colour of the playing surface, immediately looked at home. While she will never be the quickest player around the court, she looks sleeker than a year ago, when she lost only two games against the same opponent at the same stage of the tournament. Ivanovic chased down drop shots to better effect than Arvidsson, who struck the ball well enough but was let down by a lack of athleticism.

A series of trademark Ivanovic forehands pummelled Arvidsson in the 24-year-old Swede's second service game and a second break took the Serb into a 5-1 lead. Arvidsson rallied with a break of her own before Ivanovic closed out the first set.

Briefly in trouble at the start of the second set, when she trailed 1-3 and 0-40 on her own serve, Ivanovic quickly regained control. On her first match point she hit her 18th forehand winner of the day, a thumping shot down the line, to claim victory in an hour and 35 minutes.

"She gave me a tough match, especially in the second set, but I really enjoyed it out there," Ivanovic said later. "Today my goal was basically just to get into a rhythm. I was really happy with my game in the first set. I wasn't overhitting and overpowering from the first shot onwards. That was my goal for today, so I'm happy about it."

She added: "Last year I'd only just broken into the top 10 and I was under much less pressure. Now I'm world No 2 and have greater expectations for myself, which I'm still learning how to deal with. I'm only 20, so I really try to enjoy every match. I think I'm doing a good job. The last few weeks have been a little bit hard, but now I feel I have my game back."

Nicole Vaidisova must be wishing she could say the same, but the world No 16 was beaten 7-6, 6-1 by Iveta Benesova, her fellow Czech and best friend. Having broken into the world's top 10 two years ago at the age of 17, Vaidisova has seen her career stall in recent times and has not won a title since before the 2006 French Open. She has taken on Tim Henman's former coach, David Felgate, but this was her sixth successive defeat.

"It's always hard to play your best friend. I have to give her credit, she played a great match," said Vaidisova, who has won only one match on tour since reaching the Australian Open fourth round in January.

The fact that Vaidisova did not seem unduly concerned by her loss – "There were a lot of positive things and you don't play great all the time" – might be down to the fact that she has a new boyfriend, the Czech player Radek Stepanek, who was engaged last year to Martina Hingis.

"She's in love, so she's happy," Benesova said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links