Tennis

Sizzling Svitolina seeking a Slam

Former world No. 1 among the first seeds to fall at French Open

Former world No. 1 Venus Williams suffered a shock defeat by China's Wang Qiang in the French Open first round yesterday.

Venus, the 37-year-old ninth seed, was well short of her best as Wang claimed a 6-4, 7-5 victory and gained a measure of revenge for her first-round loss to Venus at Roland Garros last year.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion has now lost both her opening matches at this year's Majors, having reached last year's Australian Open and Wimbledon finals.

Wang, the world No. 91, has never made the third round of a Slam, and will face Petra Martic of Croatia for a place in the last 32 after the biggest win of her career.

World No. 9 Venus will now turn her attention to playing the doubles tournament with her sister Serena, who is competing in a Grand Slam event for the first time since last year's Australian Open after giving birth to her daughter.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina said she has tried "everything in her power" to be fully prepared for Roland Garros, after her first-round victory over Ajla Tomljanovic yesterday.

The 23-year-old, who won her second consecutive Italian Open title in the previous weekend, will next play either 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone or Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova after battling to a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Despite consistently picking up good results on the main Tour, Svitolina is yet to make a big impact at Grand Slam tournaments, with her best efforts two runs to the French Open quarter-finals.

"To be ready for a Grand Slam is always the goal, the main goal for me," she said. "I try to do everything in my power to play my best game on the Grand Slams."

Svitolina made a nervous start on Court Suzanne Lenglen, falling 5-1 down, but battled back and levelled the opening set as Tomljanovic dumped a backhand into the net after a bruising point.

The Australian's collapse was completed when Svitolina wrapped up the set with six consecutive games.

"I just tried to find my way into the match and some points were shorter in the second set, some were longer," she added.

"I was trying to build my game, and I think in the end it was... Good for the first round."

Meanwhile, 10th seed Sloane Stephens also advanced into the second round after easing past Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-2, 6-0.

Also advancing is Alize Cornet, who recovered from a set down to defeat Sara Errani 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. - AFP, REUTERS

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