RABAT, Morocco – Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone showed off more of her vintage clay court form against Timea Babos, knocking the No.4 seed out of the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1.
Schiavone came into Rabat with a run to the Claro Open Colsanitas title earlier in the season, and is so far undefeated on clay after racking up six straight wins.
“On clay court I have time to use my mind, to use power, to run, to be in defense then attack,” Schiavone explained after the match. “For me it’s fun, but at the same time it’s not easy. You have to run a lot.”
The Italian edged through in a close opening set at both players struggled to find their rhythm in the swirling Rabat winds. But in the second it was all Schiavone, who brought out the full range of her arsenal against Babos, breaking twice to build up a daunting 4-0 and tamping down a late comeback to advance into the second round after just under an hour and 30 minutes.
“Today was tough because she’s a very good player. She’s growing up a lot,” Schiavone said.
“It was not easy with the wind. I think I could save myself a little bit with the slice and the running, hitting the ball high because the wind turned the balls. But I’m very happy with the win.”
Fellow Italian Sara Errani also advanced in her Rabat opener after taking down Anna Blinkova 6-3, 6-3. Errani comfortably took the first set with a pair of breaks, but things got complicated when the Russian started to claw her way back in the second. Errani found herself trailing a down a break twice until she finally regained her footing, reeling off the last four games in a row to wrap up the match.
Joining them in the second round are Ekaterina Makarova, who defeated Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-2; Varvara Lepchenko, who fought past Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; and Yulia Putintseva, who took down Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-4.