A wobbly start for Williams
Sluggish Venus survives early scare to reach round two at Roland Garros
SEVEN-TIME grand slam champion Venus Williams survived a first-round scare at the French Open yesterday.
Williams, who reached the quarter-finals in Rome a fortnight ago, looked sluggish early on against 19-year-old Paula Ormaechea before coming through 4-6 6-1 6-3.
Argentinian Ormaechea threatened an upset but once Williams found her range there was only going to be one winner.
The veteran American could play Agnieszka Radwanska in round two. Radwanska won their last meeting, in Miami, in March.
Sixth seed Samantha Stosur made largely untroubled progress into round two with a straight-sets win over Great Britain's Elena Baltacha.
The Australian broke serve in the second game of the match and, though Baltacha recovered and was back on serve at 5-4, she dropped her serve and the set in game 10 and it was one-way traffic from then on.
The match was afforded the stadium stage of Philippe Chatrier Court but it became a no-contest as Baltacha won just nine points in the second set.
Stosur, who was runner-up to Francesco Schiavone at Roland Garros two years ago, clinched victory on her third match point to reach the last 64. American Irina Falconi awaits in round two after a 3-6 6-3 6-1 win over Romania's Edina Gallovits-Hall, and Stosur said: "I played Falconi recently in Indian Wells.
"I think it's again one of those matches where I've got to go out there and think about my own tennis more than necessarily hers. I'm always going to try and go out there and play my game.
"But I guess I've got two days to now think about it and be ready for that next one."
Serbian Ana Ivanovic, the winner here four years ago, looked impressive in her 6-1 6-1 demolition of Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino.
"I think first round, it's always tough," she said. "There are always nerves to begin with. Playing Sunday, as well, I actually wanted to play the first day, but still there were some nerves in the beginning."
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 26th seed, was also a straight-sets winner but had to dig in after a second-set fightback by Croatian underdog Mirjana Lucic.
Andy Murray has tipped Rafael Nadal for further success at Roland Garros.
Nadal shares the record of six French Open titles with Bjorn Borg and a seventh would see him match Pete Sampras' achievement at Wimbledon, the American winning his final SW19 crown in 2000.
The 25-year-old Spaniard's record in Paris is remarkable, with his only loss coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 when his knee problems were at their worst.
Murray, a big admirer of Nadal, expects the Majorcan to surpass that mark, and he said: "I think the fact that he started at such a young age is what's most impressive.
"He won it when he had just turned 19. It's obviously still going as well. So I'm sure he'll have more great runs here. I'm sure he'll win the event a few more times probably before he finishes."
Murray, who is bidding to reach a sixth consecutive grand slam semi-final, will begin his French Open campaign against Japan's Tatsuma Ito tomorrow.
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer opened their tournaments today.
Djokovic, who is bidding to land his fourth successive grand slam crown, meets Italian Potito Starace while Federer, the only man to beat the Serbian in the majors in 2011, takes on German Tobias Kamke.