Grand Slam champions Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova quickly made their way into the second round of the French Open yesterday, both winning in straight sets on the opening day of the clay-court tournament.
Sixth seed Stosur, who won last year’s US Open title and reached the final at Roland Garros in 2010, beat Elena Baltacha of Britain 6-4, 6-0 in the first match on the tournament’s main court.
“It’s a bit of an early start, but always nice to get through it now,” Stosur said. “You have the whole day and whatever else to recover and, yeah, enjoy.”
Kuznetsova won the French Open title in 2009 and the US Open in 2004, but she is seeded No. 26 this year. Against Mirjana Lucic of Croatia, the Russian faced little trouble, despite being broken twice in the second set.
No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany and No. 20 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic also advanced to the second round, along with US players Melanie Oudin and Irina Falconi.
Later, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and 2008 French Open winner Ana Ivanovic were due to play their first-round matches.
None of the top three men were in action in Paris on the opening day, but former Grand Slam champions Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro were on the schedule.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are on court today, while Rafael Nadal is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Fabio Fognini of Italy became the first man to advance, beating Adrian Mannarino of France 6-0, 7-5, 6-1. No. 21 Marin Cilic of Croatia was next, defeating Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion, also moved into the second round. The Spaniard beat Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy of France 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that starts on a Sunday. The other three all start on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s too big a deal now that it’s more of a proper schedule,” Stosur said. “I think the first year there was only a handful of matches and, yeah, if you were on the schedule then, it really didn’t feel like the tournament started. Nobody else was thinking that the tournament had started.”
Stosur converted five of her eight break points and only briefly allowed Baltacha back into the match by being broken while serving for the first set at 5-3. The Australian broke right back to take the set.
In the second set, Baltacha won only four points on her serve, allowing Stosur to advance easily.
Kuznetsova raced through the first set oand then held on to win the second to reach the next round. After leading 3-0 in the second set, Lucic broke twice, but Kuznetsova then won the next three games.
The 30-year-old Lucic reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1999, but she is now 11-44 against players ranked in the top 30 in her career.
Meanwhile, with razor-sharp claws and a top swooping speed of 300kph, eight falcons have been unleashed at Roland Garros to rid the French Open of its pigeon pest problem.
With pigeon droppings claimed to alter the trajectory of the ball and other bird-scaring tactics having failed, the French Tennis Federation turned to falcons.
“We want to clear the pigeons off, not kill them,” falconer Ludwig Verschatse said. “When we arrived, there were about 30 settled pigeons who have since left, but we have to stay for the duration of the tournament, because pigeons are stupid. They don’t transmit the information to their friends.”