Maria Sharapova opened her title defense Monday at the French Open with a tough 6-2, 6-4 win over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. The 2-time champion, though, revealed that she’s been suffering from a cold virus.
“I’m getting over it, and hopefully it will pass by soon,” Sharapova said of the minor cold.
“I mean, unless I’m really in my coffin, I’m going to be out there,” she joked.
Sharapova has now won 21 of her last 22 matches at the tournament, and she just won the Rome.
“Such a big occasion obviously for me to be out, back on center court, and I just, I had a tough opponent ahead of me,” Sharapova said. “Of course I wanted to win the match, but I knew that it was going to be tough and it wasn’t going to depend on the tennis. And, you know, the conditions were pretty difficult as well. So really, overall just happy I got through and have a day off tomorrow and I should be better by then.”
Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka also advanced thumping Maria Teresa Torro-Flor 6-2, 6-1. Azarenka could run into Serena Williams in the third round this weekend, but the Belarussian refused to talk about the possible encounter, instead focusing on today’s win.
“It’s never easy to play the first round of a Grand Slam no matter what your ranking is or your position,” Azarenka said. “But it’s important to start the tournament well. I had an opponent who I didn’t know about and never played against her. For me it was important to just really try to get into the rhythm, get into the tournament, and try to stay focused during the whole match.”
Another former top player is not having Azarenka’s success. Agnieszka Radwanska’s struggles continued today as the Polish No. 1 fell to Annicka Beck 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Radwanska had beaten Beck 6-0, 6-0 in their previous meeting two years ago, but today the German turned the tables.
“Clay season is not really my favorite one, and I guess it’s not getting better, even when I’m really trying to do everything. So I just want to forget about that and focus on grass, I guess,” said Radwanska who had not lost first round at a Slam this decade until today.
“I was doing a lot of things to really play good here. I practice well at home. Of course doesn’t matter how I feel like, I should just win that match. Of course I’m not happy about the result. Losing first round is always disappointing, especially in a Grand Slam.”
In the evening, Sloane Stephens hung tough in the first set and ran away with the second to beat Venus Williams 7-6(7) 6-1. Stephens, who made the fourth round last year, now has Grand Slam wins over both Williams sisters.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Sloane said of Venus. “Obviously she’s a great player and a great champion. I knew I was just going to have to get out there and do my best. Obviously I have never played her in a real match. So I didn’t know if she was going to boss me off the court or like how that was going to go. But I knew if I just stayed in there and played my game that it would be a good match.”
Venus, the 2002 French Open runner-up to Serena, did not meet the press afterward.
Former finalist Sam Stosur, Heather Watson, Alize Cornet and Carla Suarez Navarro were among the other winners.
Tomorrow, 2-time champion and World No. 1 Serena Williams returns to face doubles specialist Andrea Hlavachkova. Caroline Woznicki and 2-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova are also on court on the last day of the women’s first round.
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