Thursday, May 26, 2011

French Open tears put stars in shade

Updated May 25, 2011 06:57:00

Grieving Virginie Razzano and struggling former champion Ana Ivanovic have flooded the French Open with tears, sweeping winning drawcards Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters into the shade.

French 28-year-old Razzano was inconsolable as she recounted how fiance and coach Stephane Vidal, who died from a brain tumour eight days ago, had encouraged her to play Roland Garros.

Ivanovic, the 2008 champion and former world number one, also broke down as she vented her mounting frustration at seeing her career bedevilled by a series of stomach and wrist injuries.

"I am very emotional, I was here for Stephane," said Razzano, after her 6-3, 6-1 defeat by Australian 24th seed Jarmila Gajdosova.

"It was really hard to come on the court, there was a lot of emotion and a lot of pain. That pain will always be there. I tried to make a tribute to Stephane. It was mission impossible but I gave my all."

Ivanovic, the 23-year-old 20th seed, lost 7-6 (7-3), 0-6, 6-2 to Sweden's world number 64 Johanna Larsson.

After committing 45 unforced errors, Ivanovic wept as she revealed how a left wrist injury had restricted her ambitions.

"I had stomach problems at the start of the year. But I felt healthy before Indian Wells, then hurt my stomach again at the Fed Cup. It's been stop and go," the Serbian said.

"It is very frustrating. It's inflammation of the wrist but I didn't suffer it playing, I woke up with the problem.

"The bone has slipped and has caused friction. I'm very upset."

Meanwhile, second seed Clijsters, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2006, swept past Belarusian Anastasia Yakimova 6-2, 6-3.

Clijsters, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, has been Paris runner-up twice, in 2001 and 2003, but had not played in the event since losing in the 2006 semi-finals to compatriot Justine Henin.

She will next face Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.

"I was excited to be back out there," said Clijsters, whose participation in Paris was under threat because of an ankle injury.

"I moved well and was aggressive. There's a few things that will have to be better. I didn't always hit the lines like I wanted to."

Sharapova had little trouble disposing of Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic 6-3, 6-0, as the former world number one began her campaign to clinch a first French Open title.

It took the seventh-seeded Russian just 56 minutes to seal victory as her 29-year-old opponent, playing the tournament for the first time in eight years, was overwhelmed, winning just four points in the second set.

"It was a tough beginning because she started off serving really big, and I didn't get too many looks on second serves," said Sharapova, who captured the Rome claycourt tournament in the run-up to Paris.

"But once I got a good rhythm I felt like I started playing better and better."

Sharapova, who sported diamond-encrusted earrings, has never got beyond the semi-finals in Paris. She next faces French wild card Caroline Garcia.

Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, a quarter-finalist in 2009, breezed past Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3.

Azarenka, at a career-high four in the world after a 2011 that has seen her capture titles in Miami and Marbella and finish runner-up in Madrid, now faces either Pauline Parmentier of France or Russia's Ksenia Pervak.

Chinese sixth seed Li Na, who reached the Australian Open final this year, struggled past Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 and she will next face Spain's Silvia Soler Espinosa.

After Heather Watson became the first British woman to win a match at Roland Garros in 17 years on Monday, Elena Baltacha joined her compatriot in the next round with a 7-5, 6-2 win over US qualifier Sloane Stephens.


Tags: sport, tennis, france

First posted May 25, 2011 06:23:00

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