Sharapova survives Rodina's assault

Evgeniya Rodina and Maria Sharapova live in different worlds, geographically and socially, and before meeting in the first round of the French Open here yesterday the two Russians had never spoken to one another. Rodina, who lives in Moscow, has earned a total of $120,000 (about £60,000) in prize-money, which is less than one hundredth of what her Florida-based opponent has banked.

On the basis of their match you would never have guessed at the gulf, which is also reflected in their rankings. Sharapova, the new world No 1 following Justine Henin's retirement, won 6-1, 3-6, 8-6, but Rodina, the No 104, came within two points of pulling off the most stunning result of the year in her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

At 19 Rodina is only two years younger than Sharapova, but her chubby features looked like puppy fat and when she sat behind the microphones before her post-match press conference she looked like a nervous schoolgirl. Appearances were deceptive, however, for out on court she played with unbridled confidence and regularly had Sharapova in trouble with her crisp down-the-line backhands and forehands.

Sharapova took command of the first set, but a combination of her own mistakes and her opponent's bold play let Rodina back into the match. By the end Sharapova had made 51 unforced errors compared with Rodina's 23, but the most telling statistic was the Australian Open champion's 17 double faults. In the fifth game of the second set she double-faulted three times in a row.

There was no return of the rain which had disrupted the previous two days' play, but a swirling wind made life difficult. "Apart from eating and breathing the sand, it was great," Sharapova said. "The conditions were bad for me, they were bad for her and they were bad for everybody else playing."

Sharapova, who needs the French Open title to complete her Grand Slam collection, was not happy with her footwork and blamed the wind and her ball toss for the problems on her serve. "I had problems in every department of my game today, so I'll have to improve on every aspect of those things," she said.

Having struggled to hold her serve in the final set, Sharapova made her 16th double fault at 4-5 and 30-15 to go within two points of defeat. However, there is no player in the women's game who can match Sharapova's steeliness under pressure and two service winners averted the crisis. Three games later two Rodina errors handed Sharapova a break of serve and she served out to secure victory in two hours and 28 minutes.

Ana Ivanovic, the world No 2, needed less than an hour to beat Lucie Safarova 6-1, 6-2, but Marion Bartoli, the No 9, was beaten 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 by Casey Dellacqua, who reached the fourth round of her home Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open in January.

Bartoli, who has not won more than two games in a row all year, said: "I'm fed up. I'm going to turn off my mobile phone, turn off my TV set, forget about Roland Garros. I'm going to try not to think about it. I'll go far away, very far away." Last year's Wimbledon finalist said she felt too tired to start her preparations for the grass court season. "I've been playing since the beginning of the year and I felt very tired. I probably will start practising for the season on grass, but I first want to think about myself."

Rafael Nadal, the defending men's champion, made heavy weather of beating Italy's Thomaz Bellucci, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 after two hours and 34 minutes. Novak Djokovic, the world No 3, had no such problems against Miguel Angel Lopez Jaen, a Spanish qualifier, and won 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to become the first man to book his place in the third round.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 champion, retired with leg pains while leading Brazil's Marcos Daniel, but Lleyton Hewitt, a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 winner over France's Nicolas Mahut, reported no problems with the hip injury that kept him out of all the clay court warm-up tournaments.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week