Safina in devastating form

Top seed Dinara Safina confirmed her status as title favourite by crushing British number one Anne Keothavong on day two of the French Open.

Top seed Dinara Safina confirmed her status as title favourite by crushing British number one Anne Keothavong on day two of the French Open.

While fellow title contender Venus Williams, the third seed, struggled into the second round, Safina provided further evidence she is ready to claim her first grand slam title to justify her world number one ranking.

The Russian ruthlessly saw off Keothavong 6-0 6-0 in 61 minutes on Philippe Chatrier court to set up a meeting with compatriot Vitalia Diatchenko, but she is not getting carried away by her recent success on the clay.

“I’m not really paying attention to what people are saying about me,” said Safina, the runner-up here last year.

“The most important thing is to play my game and take it day by day, match by match.

“I came on the court expecting a tough game because she had been playing well. But when I started, I felt good. I think I played a solid game.”

Keothavong, a semi-finalist in Warsaw last week, accepted she would be the butt of some jokes after her humiliating defeat.

“She is the number one player in the world and she can do that to anyone. Unfortunately, it was me today,” said the world number 48.

“In the end, you have to find ways to laugh about it. I’m sure there will be a few jokes about it but I can take it.

“I am not going to walk out of here and slit my wrists.”

Williams was nowhere near as impressive as she claimed a 6-14-6 6-2 win over fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

But she was happy with her fighting spirit in her opening match, saying: “I’m definitely a third-set player.

“Once I get to the third set, I feel a new level coming.”

Clay is comfortably Williams’ least favourite surface and she has only progressed past the quarter-finals once at Roland Garros, when she lost the 2002 final to sister Serena. She plays Lucie Safarova, of the Czech Republic, next.

Maria Sharapova was back in grand-slam action today, coming from behind to beat Anastasiya Yakimova 3-6 6-1 6-2.

The Russian has not played a grand slam since Wimbledon last year because of a shoulder injury, and her ranking has slipped to 102.

She was broken three times in losing the opening set but recovered to set up a second-round meeting with compatriot Nadia Petrova, the 11th seed.

Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, the 14th seed, was a high-ranking casualty on day two, losing 6-1 6-1 to American Alexa Glatch.

Elsewhere, 13th seed Mario Bartoli recovered from going a set down to beat fellow Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 3-6 6-1 6-3.

Jie Zheng, the 15th seed, eased past France’s Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-1 6-3 and Agnes Szavay, the 29th seed, beat Corinna Dentoni 6-3 6-4.

Another seed to fall was Alisa Kleybanova (23), the Russian going down 6-2 4-6 6-1 to Polona Hercog of Slovenia.

Cohen-Aloro’s defeat added to the reverses suffered yesterday by five French women, one of them being 16th seed Amelie Mauresmo.

Other home players to be knocked out today were Camille Pin and Stephanie Foretz, to Tamarine Tanasugarn and Kirsten Flipkens respectively.

Aravane Rezai reversed that trend by thrashing Japan’s Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-2.

Dominika Cibulkova (20) and Carla Suarez Navarro (22) were other seeded players to make round two.

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