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Rediff.com  » Sports » Photos: Serena defeat shocks French Open out of a doze

Photos: Serena defeat shocks French Open out of a doze

Last updated on: May 30, 2012 10:06 IST

Photos: Serena defeat shocks French Open out of a doze

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Former champion Serena Williams shocked the French Open crowd, and herself, by losing to Virginie Razzano in the first round on Tuesday, her earliest exit from a grand slam in the 47 appearances she has made in an outstanding career.

Razzano was two points from defeat in the second-set tiebreak but battled back to knock out the fifth-seeded American 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 in two minutes over three hours.

Williams had been the pre-tournament favourite and her shock exit overshadowed Tuesday's other events, with men's defending champion Rafa Nadal, fourth seed Andy Murray and former women's winner Francesca Schiavone among those winning easily.

Three days of watching the favourites cruise through the first round in the sunshine, had lulled the Roland Garros fans into a gentle doze.


Image: Serena Williams of USA slumps to the floor
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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There is no excuse: Serena

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Williams, last up on the Philippe Chatrier showcourt at the end of another summery day, was supposed to swiftly dispatch local heroine Razzano and complete the second round line-up.

Razzano, though, had other ideas. She woke up the drowsy fans with her battling play and, by the time she got to her eighth matchpoint in a 25-minute final game, the crowd were in a frenzy.

As Razzano skipped around the court in delight after her win, a dejected Williams gathered her bag and headed straight for the news conference room to try to explain what had happened.

"There is no excuse," the 13-times Grand Slam singles champion said. "I just didn't play at all the way I have been practising."

Razzano, whose fiance died from a brain tumour last year, was struggling with cramp as she served in the extraordinary final game which went to deuce 12 times.

The Frenchwoman, ranked 111 in the world, saved five breakpoints and squandered seven match points before Williams hit a groundstroke out on the eighth.

"It's the most beautiful victory in my career," Razzano, 29, said in a courtside interview.


Image: Virginie Razzano of France celebrates
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Venus's comeback route takes Radwanska turn

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Whereas, Venus Williams's comeback route takes a difficult turn when the American takes on Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.

Seven-times Grand Slam champion Williams, who returned to the tour in March after dropping out with Sjogren's Syndrome that induces fatigue, is still learning how to live with her chronic illness.

"It is definitely an adventure and a journey, and it is just life happening," Williams, now the World number 53, explained.

She has, however, beaten top 10 opponents since her comeback, dismissing Czech Petra Kvitova in Miami and Australian Samantha Stosur in Rome.

Williams, however, lost in two sets against Radwanska in Miami.

She will be last on Court Philippe Chatrier, where proceedings will be opened by World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka against Germany's Dinah Pfizenmaier while her male counterpart Novak Djokovic will be up against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic on Court Suzanne Lenglen.


Image: Venus Williams of USA serves
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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I feel fresher than last year: Nadal

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Nadal had bad news for anyone thinking of thwarting his bid for a record seventh French Open title: this year he feels even better than he did when he won his sixth, 50 weeks ago.

After speeding into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Italian Simone Bolelli, Nadal, who came to Roland Garros with three claycourt victories behind him this season, declared his confidence to be sky-high.

"I feel fresher than last year. My attitude is more positive," the Spanish World No. 2said.

"Last year my attitude was good because I wanted to fight for it but I was perhaps not positive enough. I was not cool enough, cool-tempered, whereas this year I'm extremely motivated. I feel a lot better when I'm out on the courts."

Nadal, who won in Rome eight days ago, and in Barcelona and Monte Carlo last month, was certainly in impressive form as he saw off the world number 111 in just under two hours.

He was soon joined in the second round by fourth seed Murray who comfortably beat Roland Garros debutant Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-1, 7-5, 6-0 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

Scot Murray will now play Finn Jarko Nieminen, while Nadal faces Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves in his men's singles first round match against Simone Bolelli of Italy during day 3 of the French Open at Roland Garros
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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Schiavone, Sharapova enjoy a fine start

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Italian Schiavone and Russian Maria Sharapova, who has won every Grand Slam event except the French, both enjoyed a fine start to this year's tournament.

Schiavone, the winner in 2010 and runner-up to Li Na last year, overcame pre-match nerves to defeat 41-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm, the third-oldest woman to play here in the professional era, 6-3, 6-1.

Sharapova, who could reclaim the world number one ranking depending on the fortunes of Belarussian Victoria Azarenka here, inflicted the first whitewash of the tournament when she sped past Romanian Alexandra Cadantu in 48 minutes.


Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates victory in her women's singles first round match against Alexandra Cadantu of Romania
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Kvitova eases into second round

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Czech Republic fourth seed Petra Kvitova barely broke sweat to see off Australian wild card Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-2 to reach the second round.

The Wimbledon champion needed just 54 minutes on a sundrenched Court Suzanne Lenglen to subdue her 16-year-old opponent.

World number 332 Barty broke Kvitova's serve in the first game of the second set but the Czech had simply too much pace.


Image: Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic celebrates match point in her women's singles first round match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Ferrer also moves into the next round

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Claycourt specialist David Ferrer, a quarter-finalist twice here and the sixth seed, eased to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 victory over unheralded Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

Lacko tried to fight back towards the end, saving three breakpoints to hold serve for 4-1 in the third set, but it was already too late and he surrendered serve to the Spaniard in the seventh game to go out.

Serbian Janko Tipsarevic was briefly put off his stride when an elderly spectator had to be helped from the stands in mid-game during the third set after suffering from the heat on Court One.

The eighth seed recovered his concentration to defeat American Sam Querry 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 and reach the second round where he will face either compatriot Albert Ramos or Frenchman Benoit Paire.


Image: David Ferrer of Spain slides to play a forehand in the men's singles first round match against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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