Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan advanced to the French Open second round yesterday, while title hopefuls Novak Djokovic and Francesca Schiavone gave the Roland Garros crowd only a glimpse of their abilities as they sped to victories on a hot, sunny day.
Chan defeated 31st seed Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-1, while second seed Djokovic extended his winning streak to 40 matches with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 dismissal of Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker, while defending champion Schiavone raced past Melanie Oudin of the 6-2, 6-0.
Djokovic, unbeaten this year, made light work of the talented de Bakker, peppering the court with forehand winners and mixing his game with cunning drop shots.
The Serbian, who has beaten five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal twice on clay this season, faces a possible third-round encounter with 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
The Argentine, who has been recovering from a torn hip muscle, recovered from a shaky start to down Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Schiavone was as convincing as Djokovic.
Following a low-key start to the tournament with none of the top six seeds in action on Sunday in both draws, the fifth seed was the first on court and she wasted no time.
The Italian needed just over an hour to dispatch world No. 88 Oudin, quickly finding her groove after conceding an early break.
Fans were still lining up outside Roland Garros and the Philippe Chatrier stands were far from full when Schiavone waved the crowd goodbye with a big smile on her face.
“I’m still shaking a little bit. A lot of adrenaline. I felt really happy to be there,” the 30-year-old said.
Third seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia put up a solid performance to beat Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-3, 6-3.
On Sunday, gusty winds and half-empty stands gave no sense of the usual Parisian glamor as last year’s runner-up Samantha Stosur began with an easy win and Lleyton Hewitt pulled out injured.
Stosur shook off the effects of a virus to beat Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 on a sun-bathed, yet windswept court Philippe Chatrier.
“The conditions weren’t always so easy with some gusts of wind and whatever else, but, yeah, overall, very happy,” said Stosur, who noticed with a smile that there “weren’t quite as many people this time.”
However, the crowd grew bigger on court Philippe Chatrier when local favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sparked off his campaign, but the fireworks did not last long as the 17th seed needed less than two hours to dismiss Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, a three-time semi-finalist in Paris, was also untroubled on court Suzanne Lenglen as she breezed past Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko 6-3, 6-1.
Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, experienced few problems in a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
This year’s French Open has been hit hard by injuries and Hewitt, the Australian former world No. 1, added to the list of absentees when he pulled out because of a left-ankle problem.
Andy Roddick of the US and former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero withdrew on the eve of the year’s second Grand Slam, joining the likes of Serena and Venus Williams and Dinara Safina in missing out.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic would certainly get the feeling his tournament was finished before it had properly started as the 19th seed was sent packing with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Spain’s Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, as did Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun, who was dumped out by Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.