World No. 1 Russian Dinara Safina made a statement in response to her detractors on Monday at the French Open, starting her two-week campaign with a 6-0, 6-0 dismantling of Britain’s Anne Keothavong.
“I guess I could serve a little bit better and hit the balls a little harder,” Safina told reporters in response to her coach being a bit angry for letting up at the end of the match, “especially in that love game, 5-0 (in second set), when I pushed a few shots…After I shook her hand [Keothavong] said at least you could give me one game.”
Safina, who has yet to win a Slam title, has taken heat from several players, especially No. 2-ranked Serena Williams who before the French Open proclaimed herself the real No. 1.
“I’m not really paying attention what the people saying,” Safina told reporters. “If I start to pay too much attention, you know — the most important thing I play my game and day by day, match by match, and how far I can get, God knows.”
Other Top 10 seeds in action did not have such an easy time, with No. 3 Venus Williams squeaking by fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki at a set all against Vera Dushevina when the match was suspended.
“Clay, I know it’s the only Slam Venus hasn’t won,” Mattek told reporters. “I’m sure she’s pretty bent on winning it. I think she was playing good. She clocked a couple of big serves. That’s her strength.”
American breakout star Alexa Glatch had the biggest upset on the day, ousting claycourt specialist and No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1.
“Even though the scoreline may look like it was pretty easy, it definitely wasn’t out there. It’s never easy to beat a Top 20 player like that,” said Glatch, adding that her Fed Cup experience this year had given her new confidence.
In other upsets Kateryna Bondarenko topped No. 17 Patty Schnyder 6-4, 6-3, Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog shocked No. 23 Alisa Kleybanova, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, and Colombian lucky loser Mariana Duque Marino surprised No. 26 Anna Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Other seeded players into the second round were No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 13 Marion Bartoli, No. 15 Jie Zheng, No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 22 Carla Suarez Navarro, and No. 29 Agnes Szavay.
Unseeded Maria Sharapova didn’t look sharp in working past Anastasiya Yakimova 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“I started pretty lousy,” Sharapova told reporters. “Even though I was up a break I wasn’t doing the right things, and I was letting her play well. I was a little sloppy. But I totally changed it around. I started playing a lot more aggressively and the match changed after the first few games of the second set.”
Matches to look for on Tuesday at Roland Garros are the struggling (5) Jelena Jankovic vs. Petra Cetkovska, Klara Zakopalova vs. (2) Serena Williams in a rematch of Zakopalova’s win earlier this year at Marbella, French veteran Nathalie Dechy vs. (28) Sybille Bammer, (30) Samantha Stosur vs. clay grinder Francesca Schiavone, American qualifier Carly Gullickson vs. Sorana Cirstea, a match-up of the “troubleds” in Jelena Dokic vs. Karolina “The Spreminator” Sprem, (31) Shuai Peng vs. Spanish three-name grinder Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and another Spanish three-name grinder in Virginia Ruano Pascual vs. former pre-Radek threat Nicole Vaidisova.
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