Mauresmo: first win will help banish mental demons

AMELIE MAURESMO believes her first-round win over Olga Savchuk will help to dismiss any “mental fears” she had coming into the French Open.

Mauresmo has been flying the French flag for a number of years at her home grand slam, but she is seeded 22 this time round and not as much is expected. Compatriots Marion Bartoli and Alize Cornet are even seeded above her this year.

The 28-year-old was far from convincing in her 7-5 4-6 6-1 win over Savchuk on Philippe Chatrier court, but she feels she is making progress nevertheless.

“I hope with this match I can overcome all these mental fears I have,” said Mauresmo, the two-time grand slam winner who has never prevailed at Roland Garros in 13 attempts.

“I had many questions in my mind and many doubts before the tournament started.

“I am an outsider (this year) so I have less personal expectations — less tension, less pressure. I’ll take it one match at a time.”

Earlier, Russian pair Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina had been the only players to claim wins before the rain came again midway through the afternoon.

Fourth seed Kuznetsova had no trouble dispatching Japan’s Aiko Nakamura 6-2 6-3 on Court One.

Safina was just as easy a winner as she cruised past Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1 6-3 on Court Three.

Other seeds to progress yesterday were Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska (14), who saw off Mariya Koryttseva 6-4 6-3, and Japan’s Ai Sugiyama (31), a three-set winner over Alla Kudryavtseva.

Meanwhile, men’s champion Rafael Nadal’s return to action at Roland Garros lasted just nine minutes as rain forced his first-round match to be suspended.

The Spaniard, bidding to win his fourth title on the trot here, was level at 1-1 with Brazilian opponent Thomaz Bellucci when the rain that had ruined most of the third day’s play came down again.

He will resume his match against Bellucci, a qualifier, today.

Earlier, Nikolay Davydenko and Stanislas Wawrinka maintained their focus after the lengthy rain delay to clinch straight-sets wins.

Both players had been two sets up when the rain came down midway through the afternoon but on returning to action, neither had any trouble sealing their passages to the second round.

Fourth seed Davydenko defeated Sweden’s Thomas Johansson, the Australian Open winner in 2002, 6-3 6-3 6-3 to set up a clash with either Marat Safin or Jean-Rene Lisnard.

And ninth seed Wawrinka, a 23-year-old from Switzerland, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4 6-3 and will face Robin Haase or Marin Cilic next.

Elsewhere, only three other matches in the men’s draw were completed yesterday — and two of them saw seeds dumped out of the tournament in straight sets.

Argentina’s Juan Monaco (13), seeded for the first time at Roland Garros and in decent form coming to Paris after reaching the final at Portschach, was thrashed 6-2 6-3 6-1 by Robin Soderling on Court Two.

And Andreas Seppi (31) was dispatched 6-2 7-6 (7/1) 6-2 by the big-serving Mario Ancic, who has not appeared at a grand slam since the 2007 Australian Open because of a melange of illness and injuries.

The other player to reach the second round was Chile’s Paul Capdeville, a winner in three sets over Mischa Zverev.

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