The French Open women's title holder, Ana Ivanovic, enjoyed an easy victory against Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn, while Maria Sharapova, who had been out of competition for nine months, had to fight her way into the last 32.
REUTERS - Maria Sharapova flirted with danger and Andy Murray suffered a mid-match meltdown before their survival instincts kicked in to carry them into the third round of the French Open on Wednesday.
The duo have never felt at home in the heartland of claycourt tennis and after Murray was forced to change tactics to tame Italian Potito Starace 6-3 2-6 7-5 6-4, Sharapova maintained an aura of calm despite being five points from defeat to subdue 11th-seeded fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 6-2 1-6 8-6.
World number one Dinara Safina followed up her 6-0 6-0 walloping of Britain's Anne Keothavong in the first round with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of luckless fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko and holder Ana Ivanovic discovered her sweet spot to crush Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1 6-2.
Diatchenko carried a stuffed pink and blue toy on court as a mascot but the only luck it provided was to ensure she too did not suffer the humiliation of a whitewash at Safina's hands.
Despite the ruthless performance, Safina's coach Zeljko Krajan is proving to be a hard man to please.
"If one day he's going to be happy, I think I will finish my career. He is never happy. Even today, he is not happy," said the 23-year-old Safina, who won 17 consecutive games at these championships before finally allowing an opponent to take a game off her.
Like Safina, Murray is also chasing a maiden grand slam title but the third seed's hopes of equalling his best performance in Paris blew hot and cold on a chilly day on Philippe Chatrier Court.
"I managed to turn it around by playing a little bit more aggressive. I got the ball deep into his backhand and came to the net quite a lot," said Murray.
After losing the second set, Murray ran around aimlessly chasing shadows and looked in danger of going two-sets-to-one down to a player ranked 101 places below him as Starace streaked 5-1 ahead.
A combination of guile and deft shot-making allowed the Briton to save two set points as he dug himself out of a hole.
That performance held no fear for Murray's next opponent, bearded Serb Janko Tipsarevic.
"I beat him two times so being scared of him would be pretty stupid," summed up Tipsarevic.
The words "fear", "terror" or "panic" do not feature in Sharapova's dictionary and on Wednesday she again showed why.
On a comeback trail following a nine-month layoff because of a career-threatening shoulder injury, she hung tough for two hours 12 minutes before forcing Petrova to smack a forehand wide on match point.
Sharapova beat an opponent ranked 91 places above her despite winning one point less than Petrova's total of 94.
For Fabrice Santoro, however, there was no great escape.
The sentimental French favourite, aka the Magician, took just eight minutes to perform his final vanishing act on Wednesday.
Santoro's 20th and final Roland Garros singles appearance ended in an emotional 6-3 6-1 3-6 6-4 first round defeat by Belgium's Christophe Rochus.
The match had been suspended on Tuesday due to bad light at 5-3 to Rochus in the fourth set but upon resumption, Santoro quickly ran out of tricks and bowed out after just two games.
"My game style was out of date when I arrived on tour. I got on the tour in the '90s, and my style dated back to the '70s. So managing to get good performances for 20 years when you're 20 years late ... that's the beauty of my career," said Santoro, who mystified opponents with his bewitching array of shots.
French seventh seed Gilles Simon gave home fans something to cheer about as he overwhelmed American Robert Kendrick 7-5 6-0 6-1 to reach the third round, while Spanish eighth seed Fernando Verdasco beat Germany's Philipp Petzschner 6-1 6-2 6-3.
Date created : 2009-05-27