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No sweat for queen Svetlana

sports Updated: May 24, 2010 00:24 IST

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova reeled off 11 of the last 12 games to move into the French Open second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Romania's Sorana Cirstea on Sunday.

But both, 10th seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, a quarter-finalist in 2009, and Spanish 20th seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the shock winner in Rome last month, saw their campaigns end on the opening day.

The 24-year-old Kuznetsova arrived in Paris having won just one claycourt match this season and was in trouble early on against her 20-year-old opponent, who made the quarter-finals last year.

Kuznetsova was 1-3 down as Cirstea, the world number 34 and who just missed out on a seeding, quickly settled into her rhythm on a sweltering spring day in the French capital.

But the Russian rattled off the next five games to claim the opener after 38 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Kuznetsova then sped into a 3-0 lead in the second set before Cirstea got on the board again.

But the champion was quickly back on top, wrapping up the tie after 72 minutes.

The Russian sixth seed will now face Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who beat Elena Vesnina 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 for a place in the last 32.

Azarenka, whose recent form has been affected by a series of thigh and groin injuries, slipped to a 6-1, 6-2 defeat at the hands of Argentina's Gisela Dulko.

Martinez Sanchez, meanwhile, went down 6-2, 6-4 to Uzbekistan's world 97 Akgul Amanmuradova, as the form which took her to wins over top 10 players Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in Rome deserted her.

Slovakia's 26th seed Dominika Cibulkova, a semi-finalist in 2009, edged Russia's Ekaterina Ivanova 6-2, 6-0 while South African qualifier Chanelle Scheepers reached the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time when she defeated France's Mathilde Johansson 6-2, 6-4.

But the 26-year-old from Pretoria, who next faces Dulko, isn't expecting her performance to cause too many shockwaves in a country about to be gripped by World Cup fever.

"It won't make a great difference."

"It's always hard trying to promote tennis in South Africa," said Scheepers, the world 133, who is the first South African to make the second round in Paris since Amanda Coetzer nine years ago.

Venus advances to round 2

Second seeded American Venus Williams defeated Swiss veteran Patty Schynder 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday to reach the French Open second round.

Williams, the 2002 runner-up to sister Serena, will face either Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara or Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja for a place in the last 32.In men's first round action, Alejandro Falla of Colombia beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 and will face defending champion Roger Federer in the next round.

Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling, last year's runner-up to Federer after sending four-time champion Rafael Nadal to a first career defeat here, cruised to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win over France's Laurent Recouderc.