Tennis: Hard charging Sharapova shrugs off first round opponent in Paris

By Dave James

Maria Sharapova bundled Hsieh Su-Wei out in 54 minutes. Photo / AP
Maria Sharapova bundled Hsieh Su-Wei out in 54 minutes. Photo / AP

Defending champion Maria Sharapova dropped just eight points on serve yesterday to ease into the French Open second round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei.

The Russian second seed was in a hurry after having her match shifted to Court Suzanne Lenglen while Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych slugged it out on Court Philippe Chatrier for more than four hours.

"I wanted to finish tonight; it was a good decision to switch courts especially when I saw the guys were still playing."

Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam in Paris in 2012 with her Roland Garros triumph, took just 54 minutes to see off her Taiwanese opponent, the world No 42.

As well as her impressive serving numbers, Sharapova fired 25 winners to Hsieh's eight and kept her unforced errors to just four, against 24.

Hsieh has now played five times at Roland Garros and been beaten in the first round on each occasion.

Sharapova goes on to face Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard for a place in the last 32.

The titleholder was joined in the next round by three former champions - Li Na, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone.

Li, the 2011 champion, enjoyed a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues, the experienced Spaniard playing in her 38th consecutive grand slam event.

Li, who had lost all of her three previous meetings on clay against Garrigues, goes on to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States.

Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, put out fellow Russian, the 22nd seeded Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 6-2.

Italy's Schiavone, the 2010 title winner, saw off Hungary's Melinda Czink 6-0, 7-6 (7-1).

Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who has never got beyond the last 16, breezed past Israel's Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-1 and will face America's Mallory Burdette in the next round.

She is scheduled to face younger sister Urszula, who knocked out Venus Williams on Sunday, in the third round. The Pole, last year's Wimbledon runner-up, came into Paris nursing a shoulder injury which forced her to withdraw from Brussels last week and contributed to second round exits in Madrid and Rome.

But Radwanska, with her hair now dyed blonde just like her sister's, said she is fit enough to last the distance at Roland Garros.

"Well, it's up and down, but definitely it's a little bit worse on clay," she said. "I think I'm used to the pain. I'm ready to go and I'm 100 per cent fit."

Slovakian qualifier Zuzana Kucova had her first win in the majors by defeating German 24th seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (10-8), 6-0.

Kucova, 20, is ranked at 1152 in the world and had lost in qualifying 21 times before making her breakthrough this week.

- AFP

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