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Sharapova leads Russian charge
May 30, 2007 19:18 IST
Last Updated: May 30, 2007 19:19 IST
Maria Sharapova [Images] 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 court with a thigh strain.
Sharapova powered to a 6-3, 7-6 victory and was joined in the last 64 by 2006 runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova and ninth seed Anna Chakvetadze [Images], a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Australia's Alicia Molik [Images].
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 US 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.
Kuznetsova won nine consecutive games before her 79th-ranked opponent got on the scoreboard.
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, only her second competitive match of the year.
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.
The French Open 2007 coverage