Women’s top seed, 2002 champion and overwhelming favorite Serena Williams buried the ghosts of last year’s first-round horror show to storm into the second round of the French Open yesterday.
The 31-year-old American, bidding for a 16th Grand Slam title, suffered her worst defeat at a major in Paris 12 months ago when she was dumped out of the first round by Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.
However, yesterday Williams extended her current winning streak to 25 matches, the best of her career, with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili, the world No. 80, who, until reaching the Strasbourg quarter-finals last week, had not won a match on the WTA Tour this year.
It took Williams just 51 minutes to complete the victory on a chilly Court Philippe Chatrier, where the temperature hovered just above the 10oC mark, firing 27 aces to her opponent’s four.
“I am very happy, I feel very strong and I have been playing really well for the last three months,” said the American, who next faces either France’s Caroline Garcia or Yuliya Beygelzimer of Ukraine.
Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion and 14th seed, clinched a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Croatia’s Petra Martic.
After breezing through the opening set, the 25-year-old Serb saved three set points in the second before Martic, the world No. 107 who made the round-of-16 last year, leveled the match.
Ivanovic was 5-0 up in the deciding set before the nerves set in and she wasted four match points.
However, she settled herself in the ninth game, taking victory after almost two hours when Martic hit long.
She next faces either France’s Mathilde Johansson or Chanelle Scheepers for a place in the round-of-32.
“The conditions were heavy and it was cold, but it wasn’t an issue. It was an up-and-down performance,” Ivanovic said.
Italian fifth seed Sara Errani, the runner-up to Maria Sharapova last year, had the honor of being the first player to reach the second round, breezing past Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-2.
Errani needed just 54 minutes to get past world No. 86 Rus, who made the fourth round last year, but has not won a match on the WTA Tour this year.
The 26-year-old Errani will face highly rated Kazakh teenager Yulia Putintseva for a place in the round-of-32.
“It’s an important tournament, but it’s only one tournament. I just try to concentrate on my tennis and not think about last year,” Errani said.
Later yesterday, Roger Federer began his 54th consecutive Grand Slam tournament when he faced a Spanish winning machine who, for once, is not called Rafael Nadal.
Federer, the second seed and 2009 Roland Garros champion, takes on qualifier Pablo Carreno-Busta, who has made it through qualifying into his maiden Grand Slam draw.
Carreno-Busta is at No. 166 in the world having started at No. 654 in January, an ascent boosted by winning seven Futures events and an astonishing record of 53 wins in 57 matches on the circuit’s third tier.
Court Suzanne Lenglen was hosting two of the sport’s ironmen — former world No. 1 and double major winner Lleyton Hewitt and Spanish grinder David Ferrer.
Hewitt, 32, and at No. 85 in the world, has played just once on clay all season, suffering a first-round exit in Houston, Texas, last month.
The Australian, who first played Roland Garros in 1999, was a quarter-finalist in 2001 and 2004, but faces a tough opener against French 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Fourth seed Ferrer, a semi-finalist 12 months ago, was playing Marinko Matosevic of Australia.
In other early matches yesterday, there were wins for Canadian 14th seed Milos Raonic and big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, the 23rd seed.