Murray shoulders British burden

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray became the sole beacon of British hope at a grand-slam tournament once again after Anne Keothavong, Melanie South and Katie O'Brien were first-round casualties at the French Open.

Britain this year had its best turn-out in the women's draw at Roland Garros since 1992, but none of the trio made it through to round two.

Keothavong failed to win a single game as she was routed by top seed and title favourite Dinara Safina while O'Brien, who qualified as a lucky loser, was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Olga Govortsova, of Belarus.

South served for the match in the second set of her clash with Portuguese 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito but ended up being beaten 0-6 7-6 (7/5) 7-5.

Keothavong, the British number one, was philosophical in defeat.

"These things happen - you have to move on and forget about it," the Londoner said.

"I am not going to walk out of here and slit my wrists. She (Safina) can do that to anyone - unfortunately, it was me."

Murray is the only Briton left in either singles draw and he found out yesterday the identity of his second-round opponent.

The Scot will take on Potito Starace, an Italian who currently resides outside the world top 100.

Starace, 27, has earned more headlines off the court than on it of late - he was fined and banned last year for six weeks for his minor involvement in a betting scandal.

He advanced into a meeting with Murray after his first-round opponent, Mischa Zverev, retired mid-match because of digestive problems and cramps. Starace had been leading 1-0 in the third after the two players shared the opening couple of sets.

Starace is not holding out much hope of getting the better of Murray, saying: "Winning three sets against him will not be easy.

"I will try but it will be a tough match for me."

Elsewhere in the second day at Roland Garros, there were three-set wins for Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams, the former and current Wimbledon champions respectively.

In the men's draw, neither of the top two seeds Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer dropped a set in comfortable first-round victories.