Defending Champ Ousts Mel in Paris
May 23, 2011
Reported by rolandgarros.com
Defending Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone began her French Open campaign with a convincing 6-2, 6-0 win over America’s Melanie Oudin. The no.5 seed, who famously kissed the clay when she earned her first Grand Slam title here last year at the age of 29, produced a solid performance to see off world no.88 Oudin in a match that took just 62 minutes.
The women are no strangers, having met on three previous occasions with Schiavone leading the head-to-head 2-1. However, it was the American who won their last encounter during the 2010 Fed Cup Final in straight sets. Today Schiavone was fresh for revenge and opened the day’s play as she meant to go on despite the sweltering conditions on Philippe Chatrier Court. The Italian set the pattern of the match by breaking her 19-year-old opponent in the opening game and followed it up with textbook tennis.
Milan-born Schiavone served up deft drops shots, sizzling slices and ferocious forehand winners to wrong-foot Oudin, who frequently looked at her camp with despair. The defending champion soon raced into a 5-2 lead but then suffered a brief attack of nerves, failing to capitalise on four set points, one with a double fault, but eventually regained composure to close out the first set at the fifth attempt.
That momentary lapse of form was soon put behind her as Schiavone rattled through the second set without dropping a game, hitting 25 winners throughout the match compared with Oudin’s six. And there was no doubt the 30-year-old looked comfortable on the red stuff. “[There was]a lot of adrenaline. I felt really happy to be there,” Schiavone said after the match. “That court is fantastic, because it is compact. The court is perfect. Everything is going around you and it is like when you go home and your Mum does everything for you and you feel comfortable? I felt like this.” Oudin is also convinced the Italian is a definite contender for the title. “She is serving well; she’s moving well; she pretty much doesn’t have a weakness on the clay. I can see how she won the French Open last year,” she added.
Schiavone will face Vesna Dolonts in the second round as she bids to repeat her 2010 success, when she became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam. That victory also enabled her to become the second Italian after Flavia Penetta ever to rank in the top 10 and she became the first ever in the top five after this year’s Australian Open.