A cacophony of noise on Court Philippe Chatrier signaled the belated appearance of women’s third seed Victoria Azarenka as the Belarusian eased to the second round.
The stadium was barely one-third full as Azarenka went through her paces, but the low decibel level from the crowd on another chilly day in Paris was countered by the grunts, howls and groans coming from the two players.
Azarenka just about won the noise battle, although Russian Elena Vesnina ran her close and she had little trouble winning the match either, going through 6-1 6-4.
Incredibly making her eighth main draw appearance at the French Open despite still being only 23, Azarenka had to wait until the fourth day to begin her challenge after rainy weather on Tuesday meant her first-round match was canceled.
She now faces the prospect of seven matches in 11 days if she is to win the title.
The twice Australian Open champion has never shone in Paris, with her best performance being quarter-finals in 2009 and 2011.
“It was great to start and there some tough points, especially for a first round match,” Azarenka, who was briefly troubled in the second set, said on court before declaring her love for Paris.
She will face Germany’s Annika Beck in the second round.
In the men’s singles, Taiwan’s top-ranked tennis player Lu Yen-hsun overcame a long record of futility on the Paris clay and a balky ankle to capture his first career win at the French Open on Tuesday.
Lu got the victory when his opponent, Simone Bolelli of Italy, retired with an injury with Lu leading 6-4, 6-4, 2-1 in the first-round match. Lu gained the upper hand in the first set when he broke Bolelli’s serve at 3-all, but he sprained his ankle at 5-3, putting the set — and the match — in jeopardy.
The Italian closed to within 5-4 after Lu took a medical timeout, but the Taiwanese veteran recovered to serve out the set and used the injury to motivate himself.
“Twisting my ankle actually gave me more of a will to fight,” Lu said after the match.
The world No. 76 dominated the second set, losing only three points in five service games and creating five break points, one of which he converted. Bolelli, currently ranked 88th in the world, pulled out after Lu broke his serve in the third game of the final set, giving the 29-year-old his first victory in six trips to Roland Garros.
Until his five-set marathon defeat to Jeremy Chardy last year, he had never even won a set in the only Grand Slam event played on clay. Lu credited his win to a serve that got progressively better during the match and his strategy to attack Bolelli’s serve and create chances to win points quickly.
However, the victory was tempered by the news that Lu received after having had the ankle scanned. According to his official Web site, the scan found a small crack in a bone that could keep him out of action for four weeks. Further tests are expected to be done and if it is determined that the injury is not as serious as first thought and Lu can continue at Roland Garros, he will play 16th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the second round.
Yesterday it was Lu’s turn to retire as Spanish duo Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez defeated the Taiwanese player and his partner, Jaroslav Levinsky of the Czech Republic 4-2.
Fellow Taiwanese Chang Kai-chen also had a bad day in the women’s doubles as she and Shuko Aoyama of Japan lost 1-6, 1-6 to Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova and Japan’s Misaki Doi.