PARIS: The first day of the French Open saw defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova ready to retain her title as she stormed through to the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
The 24-year-old Kuznetsova arrived in Paris having won just one clay-court match this season and was in trouble early on against her 20-year-old unseeded opponent who made the quarter-finals last year. But the Russian redeemed herself within the next five games to claim the opening set after 38 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier. The Russian sixth-seed will face either compatriot Elena Vesnina or Germany’s Andrea Petkovic for a place in the last-32.
Meanwhile, Swedish fifthseed Robin Soderling , the 2009 runners-up, progressed too with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win over France’s Laurent Recouderc. Soderling will face either Ecuador’s Nicolas Lapentti or America’s Taylor Dent in the second round. Ernests Gulbis, who knocked Roger Federer out of the Rome Masters, trailed 6-4, 6-2, 1-0 against Julien Benneteau due to injuries, and then retired from the match. Gulbis, world number 27, reached the quarter- finals here in 2008.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 24th, 2010.