Schiavone Shines In First Match Of Defense

Playing the tennis she loves, Francesca Schiavone fired 25 winners to beat Melanie Oudin, 62 60.

Published May 23, 2011 12:00

Schiavone Shines In First Match Of Defense
Francesca Schiavone

PARIS, France - A year ago she captivated Paris when she won her first Grand Slam title at the age of 29; on Monday, a 30-year-old Francesca Schiavone made a winning return to Roland Garros, taking just 62 minutes to beat Melanie Oudin in straight sets in the first match of her title defense, 62 60.

Schiavone, who was ranked No.17 at last year's tournament but is ranked and seeded No.5 this time, was lethal against Oudin on Court Philippe Chatrier in the first match of the day, hitting 25 winners to just 16 unforced errors.

"I was excited to be there at 11am on center court. Great, for me it was great," Schiavone commented after the match. "I was nervous, but with good feeling. It was a mix between nervous and the chance to play the tennis I love.

"I'm still shaking a little bit. I felt so happy to be there. The court is fantastic - it's compact, it's perfect. Like when you go home and your mom does everything for you, you feel comfortable - it was like that, but with a lot of adrenaline."

Schiavone didn't start the clay court lead-up that well, but she has gone one round further at each event - second round of Stuttgart, third round of Madrid, quarterfinals of Rome and semifinals of Brussels just this past week.

"When you win a lot of matches you arrive at a Grand Slam with a better feeling, for sure. But you have to have mental, tactical and physical preparation. Some days I feel better. Anyway, I'm positive now and want to live every day."

"I pretty much got a clay court lesson today," Oudin said. "I can see how she won the French Open last year. She's so confident here. You can see she was going for the shots and making them. I thought she played really, really well."

Oudin had beaten Schiavone in their last meeting, in Fed Cup late last year, although that was on hardcourts. "It was like I was playing a totally different person. If she plays like that this tournament, I think she could win it again."

Awaiting Schiavone in the second round will be Russia's Vesna Dolonts, who rallied from 63 20 down to beat Anne Keothavong, 36 76(5) 64.

Schiavone double bageled Dolonts in their only previous meeting.

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