/ Tennis

Maria Sharapova makes smooth progress in Paris at French Open

Updated: Monday, 27 May 2013 23:04 | Comments

Maria Sharapova is the second seed at Roland Garros Agnieszka Radwanska faces Mallory Burdette in the second round
Maria Sharapova is the second seed at Roland Garros Agnieszka Radwanska faces Mallory Burdette in the second round

There was none of the drama endured by Rafael Nadal today for defending women's champion Maria Sharapova as she strolled into the second round of the French Open.

The length of Nadal's battle with little-known German Daniel Brands, where the Spaniard was close to being two sets down before turning things round, contributed to Sharapova's match against Hsieh Su-wei being moved from Court Philippe Chatrier.

Suzanne Lenglen has been a troublesome venue for the Russian in the past but she needed only 53 minutes to overpower Chinese Taipei's Hsieh 6-2 6-1 and set up a clash with rising Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard.

Sharapova said: "I was just happy that I was able to finish the match. Obviously getting off the court and seeing the men's match was still playing, I was happy with the decision that everyone made."

Last year's victory was Sharapova's first Roland Garros title, and she added: "It's nice to come back to a place where you feel like you're part of its history, where your name will always be ingrained somewhere on the wall or on the trophy. It's a really nice feeling."

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Israel's Shahar Peer.

Radwanska, last year's Wimbledon runner-up, had her thigh heavily strapped but it is a nagging shoulder problem, which caused her to miss the tournament in Brussels last week, that is more of a worry.

The Pole said: "On the clay it's always a little bit worse. I think you're pushing a little bit more than usual.

"It was much worse after Rome. So I decided to have a week of rest and just practise and do rehab, and go to Roland Garros. I think it was a good move."

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki has been on a terrible run, losing five straight matches on clay, but she ended that streak with a 6-3 6-2 victory over rising British teenager Laura Robson.

Both women are looking for new coaches, with Robson having split from Zeljko Krajan while Wozniacki's father Piotr revealed over the weekend that he has had enough of the lifestyle.

Wozniacki, now ranked 10th, has had brief spells working with Ricardo Sanchez and Thomas Johansson aside from her father and does not expect to find the search easy.

She said: "I think it's very difficult to find someone who works great with me or with Laura, or with someone who knows what they want out there. Because we know what we want. We know we can improve all the time and play better.

"And it's important to find someone who is really good and can push you on the court but also lets you live your life off the court. I think it's difficult to find someone who doesn't want to just go in and try to control everything."

Sixth seed Li Na, the champion in 2011, was given a tough time by Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues but came through in straight sets, winning 6-3 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Medina Garrigues has 10 clay-court titles to her name, more than any other active player, and she led by an early break in the second set before Li turned things around.

The match ended on a sour note when, in the penultimate game, umpire Louise Engzell penalised Medina Garrigues under the hindrance rule for a shout when she hit the ball.

Medina Garrigues argued her case, citing Sharapova's grunting in her defence, but to no avail and Li served out the victory.

The spat came two weeks after Medina Garrigues was criticised for fluffing up new balls to slow them down when she played Serena Williams in Madrid.

Eighth seed Angelique Kerber won an all-German encounter with Mona Barthel while American 17th seed Sloane Stephens, who has had a difficult time since reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open, beat Italy's Karin Knapp 6-2 7-5.

The most remarkable victory of the day went to Slovakian qualifier Zuzana Kucova, who defeated 24th seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (10/8) 6-0.

The French Open is a last hurrah for 30-year-old Kucova, who, blighted by elbow trouble, had not played for 18 months before losing in the first round of qualifying in Stuttgart last month.

She does not even have a ranking but used a protected one from before her injury to get into qualifying at Roland Garros and promptly won her first matches for almost two years.

Now she has made it four in a row with the first main-draw grand slam victory of her career. Whatever happens, though, it will be her final tournament.

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