Maria Sharapova once described her movement on clay as like a "cow on ice" but the Russian has now taken steps to shed that tag as she bids to complete her Grand Slam collection by winning a maiden French Open title.
The second seed, who captured titles in Stuttgart and Rome, showed no mercy on Tuesday during a 6-0, 6-0 first round demolition of Romanian Alexandra Cadantu. The scoreline was an indication of the strides Sharapova has taken on the slow Parisian surface, where she has never made it past the semi-finals.
How did she get there?
"There's no substitute for work and physical work and hours on the court, hours from the court," she said. The improvement changed her approach to the French Open as she now feels she has enough in the tank for a seven-match, two-week tournament on clay.
On Tuesday, Sharapova was her usual sulky, aggressive self, peppering a sunsoaked Court Suzanne Lenglen with winners to crush world number 78 Cadantu in 48 minutes. "Physically... and mentally... I believe I can play seven matches and I can play them all tough and I can recover well, which really (used to) hurt me a lot," she said. "Before I would play three-set matches where I'd have to dig deep in the beginning of the event... but (then) for the next match it was just like the balloon popped."
The balloon did not pop on Tuesday. Sharapova, who has a chance of taking over from Victoria Azarenka as world No 1 depending of the Belarussian's run in Paris, wrapped up the match when Cadantu sent a backhand long.
She will next face Japan's Ayumi Morita. historic bid Holder Rafael Nadal started his charge towards a record seventh French Open title by crushing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-2 6-1 to reach the second round.The second seeded Spaniard, who has only lost one match at Roland Garros, produced his usual awe-inspiring mix of power and pace to dismiss the world No 111 in just under two hours. Nadal raced to a 6-2 4-0 lead but Bolelli pulled a break back when his opponent double-faulted but that was as good as it got for the Italian.