Maria Sharapova races through French Open first round

 

Maria Sharapova served notice of her intent at the French Open with a 'double bagel' victory over Romania's Alexandra Cadantu in the first round at Roland Garros.

The second seed is chasing the one grand slam title she has never won, and her form on clay this year, with titles in Stuttgart and Rome, suggests she may do it.

Sharapova certainly wasted no time today, hitting 18 winners to none from her opponent, who will want to quickly forget the 48 minutes she spent on court on her French Open debut.

Serena Williams, Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are regarded as the favourites to win the women's title, and the Russian, who next meets Japan's Ayumi Morita, said: "I think everyone has a good chance.

"It's always about who takes their chances. Of course I'm really happy with the way my preparation has been coming into this tournament. I feel like with every year I have improved and I enjoy it much more.

"I think I've learned a lot more about the game and the point construction. I feel like I'm moving a lot better than I did years previously, which has helped me a lot in the recovery process within the point. So it definitely gives me a lot of confidence for this tournament."

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also raced into the second round with a 6-1 6-2 victory over talented Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty.

Neatly, it was a meeting between the senior and junior champions from SW19 last year, but the 16-year-old will have to chalk it off as valuable experience on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Kvitova had been troubled by an abdominal injury in Rome two weeks ago, but she is happy with her fitness, saying: "After Rome I had some days off, so that helped a lot. I feel very well."

Of her performance today, the Czech said: "I think that every first round is very tough to play at the grand slams, and I knew I was a really big favourite.

"She's talented. She got a wild card, she's won a grand slam. And she was a very tough opponent for the first round for sure, but I'm happy I'm through."

The fourth seed is considered much more of a threat on faster surfaces, with her best performances at Roland Garros so far being two fourth-round appearances.

Also through to the second round is Italy's Francesca Schiavone, who has made the final for the last two years, beating Sam Stosur in 2010 and then losing to Li Na 12 months ago.

The 14th seed is one of the veterans of the tour at 31, but she was giving away 10 years to the remarkable Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.

However, the 41-year-old's stay in Paris did not last long as she was dumped out 6-3 6-1.

Date-Krumm said: "I'm still enjoying playing tennis and I like the challenge. I don't know how many years I'll continue to play. Maybe this will be my last time here, maybe I'll play here for two more years or three more years."

Germany's Julia Goerges, seeded 25th, reached the second round with a 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 victory over Lucie Hradecka and next plays Britain's Heather Watson, while 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated Greta Arn 6-4 6-4.

PA

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