• French Open

Watson cruises but Wozniacki and Li shocked

ESPN staff
May 27, 2014
Heather Watson has now won nine games in a row © Getty Images

Heather Watson continued her unbeaten streak as she brushed aside Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the opening round of the French Open.

Ranked 29 places below her Czech opponent, Watson needed 95 minutes for a 6-3 6-4 and her ninth straight victory in all competitions.

Watson broke Zahlavova-Strycova's opening service game and never faltered as the British No.2 sealed the first set with minimum fuss.

She broke again early in the second set, but Zahlavova-Strycova fought back with one of her own. It did not last long, though, and Watson went on to see out the win with her third match point.

Despite the relative ease of her victory, Watson feels there is room for improvement.

"I didn't feel I played as well as I have been today, but she's a very different sort of player," she said. "She is very tricky. She hits drop shots and comes to the net on random balls, not usually the 'right balls', to throw you off. So it's different playing a different opponent. I just had to deal with what I was given today."

Watson's run in Paris is likely to see her retain the British No.1 from the injured Laura Robson in the coming weeks.

"I'm not really thinking about that at the moment, to be honest," Watson added. "I'm just enjoying my tennis, doing everything I can right the right way, and all that will come with itself if I keep doing the right things."

Watson faces a far tougher test if she is to make it to the third round of the French Open for the first time after fourth seed Simona Halep saw off Alisa Kleybanova 6-0 6-2 in a match that lasted just 55 minutes.

Caroline Wozniacki suffered defeat in her first match since her public break-up with golfer Rory McIlroy. While her former fiancé got over the split by winning the BMW PGA Championship for the first time, 13th seed Wozniacki went down 6-7(5) 6-4 2-6 to Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

Before the tournament, Wozniacki had revealed that being a Liverpool fan was helping her get over the news.

There was a huge shock on Court Suzanne Lenglen as 2011 champion and second seed Li Na was stunned by Calais-born Kristina Mladenovic.

With Stanislas Wawrinka eliminated on Monday, Li's defeat means both reigning Australian Open champions have been knocked out in the first round - the first time both Australian Open champions have lost in the first round at Roland Garros.

Ana Ivanovic dropped just four games in her first-round encounter against Caroline Garcia © Getty Images

The last Australian Open women's champion to lose in the first round in Paris was Lindsay Davenport in 2000.

Mladenovic, wiping away tears of joy, said of her 7-5 3-6 6-1 victory: "I wasn't very happy with the draw when I saw it, but I prepared properly and I went to court thinking, 'I'm at home in Paris and I just need to be positive.'

"I'm so glad I was able to produce that level of tennis in front of my home crowd."

Mladenovic will play Alison Riske in the last 64, after the American saw off Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 7-6(2) 6-3, while Sara Errani beat Madison Keys 7-5 3-6 6-1.

Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, 43, became the third oldest player in French Open singles history - Martina Navratilova was 47 in 2004. Date-Krumm made her main-draw debut at Roland Garros in 1989 - before more than half of this year's women's field were even born.

She was beaten 6-3 0-6 6-2 by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who goes on to play Kiki Bertens next, after she saw off Alexandra Cadantu 7-6(5) 6-1.

Elsewhere, 11th seed Ana Ivanovic made light work of Caroline Garcia. The 2008 champion dismissed the Frenchwoman 6-1 6-3 and will face Elina Svitolina in the next round after opponent Petra Martic retired at 0-5 in the first set.

Fifth seed Petra Kvitova was far from vintage as she scraped past Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-2. She faces Marina Erakovic next following a 6-2 6-1 win over Nadiya Kichenok.

Fifteenth seed Sloane Stephens needed almost two hours to get past Shuai Peng in an epic 6-4 7-6(10) encounter. Next up for the American is Polona Hercog, who made far lighter work of her first-round opponent, beating Jana Cepelova 6-2 6-3.

Meanwhile, Jelena Jankovic, seeded sixth, returned to finish her delayed first-round tie against Sharon Fichman. The Serbian lost the first set on Monday before bad light stopped play with Jankovic 5-1 up in the second. She came out on Tuesday to complete a 5-7 6-1 6-3 victory.

Caroline Wozniacki cut a frustrated figure as she went out just days after splitting from golfer Rory McIlroy © Getty Images
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