Roland Garros gets noisier, busier
Victoria Azarenka waited until the fourth day of the French Open for her opening match, then showed she's eager to continue.sports Updated: May 30, 2013 02:05 IST
Victoria Azarenka waited until the fourth day of the French Open for her opening match, then showed she's eager to continue.
Filling a mostly empty stadium court with her familiar shrieks on Wednesday, the former world No 1 beat Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in a match postponed one day because of rain. That meant Azarenka reached the second round 72 hours after some players.
The Australian Open champion in each of the past two years, the No 3-seeded Azarenka is hoping for a breakthrough at Roland Garros, the only major where she has yet to reach a semifinal.
Azarenka wore down Vesnina with her noisy but steady baseline game, committing only 13 unforced errors. Vesnina, ranked 38th, fell to 1-19 against top-five players and has yet to take a set in five matches against Azarenka.
Azarenka needed only half an hour to win the first set, fell behind in the second, then finished with several booming strokes and a fist pump. Speaking to the crowd afterwards, she tried to match rival Serena Williams' feat of speaking French but stumbled. "I know 'Je t'aime, Paris,' and I know 'Allez,'" she said with a laugh. "Merci beaucoup."
Azarenka made a noisy start before a parade of home players threatened to turn the French Open into a purely domestic affair.
Fourteen French players were in singles action on another chilly day in the capital with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the sixth seed, leading the charge with a 7-6 (4) 6-4 6-3 victory against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen to reach the third round. Tsonga is regarded as France's best hope of a first men's grand-slam champion since 1983 when Yannick Noah captured the hearts of the public at Roland Garros by beating Mats Wilander.
He took a while to loosen up against the steady Nieminen who got the first break of serve and had to save a set point before overpowering his opponent with some impressive tennis.
The 28-year-old Tsonga, the last Frenchman to reach a major final in Australia in 2008, said he was happy to be carrying the flag for the sizeable home contingent.
"It's positive pressure because I have everything to win and I would say nothing to lose," Tsonga told reporters.
"If I go far in this tournament or if I win, it's going to be something huge."
There were mixed results for Tsonga's compatriots.
Local wildcard Aravane Rezai offered a bold challenge to Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova but fell short, losing 6-3 4-6 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic had too much power for Michael Llodra, winning in four sets to reach round three.
Gilles Simon, seeded 15, struggled to impose himself against Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay but hit top form to win 6-7 (2) 6-1 6-1 6-1. Fourth seed David Ferrer took his place in the third round almost unnoticed after thrashing fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes.
Croatia's Marin Cilic ended the hopes of Australian Nick Kyrgios, leaving France's Lucas Pouille as the only teenager still in the men's draw. Polish hopes of a third-round meeting between the Radwanska sisters vanished after Agnieszka beat Mallory Burdette 6-3 6-2 but Urszula lost 6-3 6-3 to German Dinah Pfizenmaier.