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Sharapova leads Russian charge at Roland Garros

Maria Sharapova showed there was no room for sentiment on Wednesday when she led a trio of Russian seeds into the second round.

sports Updated: May 31, 2007 15:16 IST
Pritha Sarkar
Pritha Sarkar

Maria Sharapova showed there was no room for sentiment on Wednesday when she led a trio of Russian seeds into the second round of the French Open.

Playing under menacing clouds and in a rush to get off court before the heavens opened again over Roland Garros, the world number two was in unforgiving mood as local darling Emilie Loit hobbled around the court with a thigh strain.

Sharapova made light of her own patched-up shoulder as she powered to a 6-3 7-6 victory. She was joined in the last 64 by 2006 runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova and ninth seed Anna Chakvetadze, a 6-2 6-3 winner over Australia's Alicia Molik.

Wiimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo began her 13th tilt at winning her home grand slam with a 6-0 7-5 triumph over American Laura Granville.

Venus Williams made heavy weather of finishing off fellow American Ashley Harkleroad, letting slip a 5-1 lead in the second set before sealing a 6-1 7-6 second-round victory.

Kuznetsova avenged one of the most painful defeats of her career when she blew fellow Russian Ekaterina Bychkova off court 6-0 6-3.

The third seed was humiliated by Bychkova at the 2005 U.S. Open when she became the first defending champion to lose in the opening round.

Fast forward two years and Bychkova felt the full force of Kuznetsova's wrath.

The roller-coaster careers of another pair of Russians, former champion Anastasia Myskina and 22nd seed Marat Safin, took another nosedive.

Foot surgery

Making her comeback after undergoing foot surgery in January, Myskina's challenge lasted 38 forgettable minutes as she was embarrassed 6-1 6-0 by American Meghann Shaughnessy.

Myskina, the first Russian woman to lift a grand slam title when she triumphed here in 2004, almost skipped the tournament due to injury.

She probably wished she had missed her flight out of Moscow after her painful experience on court 16.

Myskina, once ranked second in the world, is now floundering at 51 and has not won a match since reaching the final in Stockholm last August.

"I have to be a realist. I knew I was not going to win but I just wanted to see how my foot would feel," Myskina told reporters. "You can see I'm moving like a big cow now."

Shaughnessy's reward was a second-round date with Kuznetsova.

Safin raged, rolled in the red dirt and smashed a racket but his histrionics could not prevent a 6-4 6-4 7-5 mauling by Serb Janko Tipsarevic in the second round.

Sixth seed Novak Djokovic was a relieved man after he completed his first-round match a day after it started, defeating Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-3 7-6 6-4.

First Published: May 31, 2007 09:03 IST