French Open | Muguruza gets off to a solid start
Defending champion Garbine Muguruza arrived in Roland Garros with just three clay court wins under her belt but despite her middling form, swept aside former champion the 37-year-old Francesca Schiavoni in her opening round.
I'm happy that I managed to be composed out there, because I wasn't sure how I was going to react again on the centre court, playing against an ex-champ. Garbine Muguruza
The Spaniard beat the Italian 6-2 6-4 and will now face Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit as she continues the defence of her title.
“I cannot believe in the first round we have two ex-champions. Not only that but Francesca is a legend and I was very excited to play on Philippe Chatrier court with her,” the 23-year-old said.
“I know I played good here before. That doesn’t make me extra confident this year. I think I just have to earn that confidence here, and, like today, going out there, trying to deal with things. That’s what brings me confidence. Not remembering how I played last year.”
She added: “I think it was a tough first match. Schiavone can be a very tricky player. I think she has moments where she’s unbelievable.
“I’m happy that I managed to be composed out there, because I wasn’t sure how I was going to react again on the centre court, playing against an ex-champ.”
In what is the most open of French Opens, Muguruza needs to reach the final to remain in the top ten of the rankings.
Hopes of a home champion emerging at the end of the fortnight might well be fulfilled as Kristina Mladenovic having tweaked her back during Sunday’s practice, held off the very strong challenge from America, Jennifer Brady, requiring just under three hours to claim her pace in round two 3-6 6-3 9-7.
Mladenovic had to leave the court after three games to receive treatment and broke out in tears when she finally secured the victory.
“I did a wrong movement and I blocked my back,” she explained. “If it were not Roland Garros, I wouldn’t have walked into the courts today. That’s to tell you how bad this was.
“This morning was way better, but it was really bad still for being at the top level of playing. And especially on the serve.
“I thought I was out of this tournament. But I took some medications when I went off at 3-0, and the doctor said to give it a try and see.
“I played out there for three hours and I was just trying to find a way. I just dug in. I was down a set. I was down 3-0 in the third. I really don’t know how I did that.”
The French woman will be facing former runner-up Sara Errani in the next round, no doubt hoping her back problems will have eased if not cleared by then.
The 24-year-old said: “It’s nothing dangerous and bad, and it can release in couple of hours or a couple of days. I’m lucky I have a good team and good specialists around me.
“I’m positive about my conditioning on Wednesday. Just extremely happy to give myself a chance to be still in the tournament, and I’m sure I will come back better.”
Meanwhile second seed Karolina Pliskova also made a solid start to her campaign beating China’s Zheng Saisai 7-5 6-2 while Caroline Wozniacki held off 17-year-old Australian wild card Jaimee Fourlis, to go through 6-4 3-6 6-2.
Also through are former runner-up Sam Stosur of Australia and Belgian and Kiki Bertens while title favourite Simona Halep will test out her injured ankle for the first time on Tuesday when she begins her campaign against Jana Cepelova.