Paris, France (Sports Network) - Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano came from
behind to stun American great Serena Williams in a wildly-entertaining first-
round battle Tuesday at the 2012 French Open.
The 29-year-old Razzano trailed by one set and 1-5 in a second-set tiebreak
before charging back to shock the former world No. 1 Williams 4-6, 7-6 (7-5),
6-3 on Court Chatrier at Stade Roland Garros.
Williams headed to Paris as one of the pre-tournament favorites, along with
Maria Sharapova, but wound up suffering her first-ever opening-round loss at a
Grand Slam event (46-1).
After dropping the second set, the fifth-seeded Williams sat in her chair and
fought back tears during a lengthy changeover, which saw Razzano take what
appeared to be a bathroom break.
Razzano was down 5-6 in the second set before forcing a see-saw tiebreak,
which saw her win the last six points, and winning seven straight games for
what appeared to be a commanding 5-0 lead in the third.
But Williams managed to stay alive by winning the next three games to set the
stage for a war of attrition that was the ninth game of the final stanza.
Williams saved a whopping seven match points, but also blew five break points
in the final game, as Razzano finally pulled off the stunner when the American
sent one final backhand long to prompt a celebration by Razzano, who recorded
the biggest win of her career in the process.
The 30-year-old Williams is a 13-time major singles champion, including a
French Open title in 2002. The 2011 U.S. Open runner-up missed last year's
French Open due to injury and hasn't reached a semifinal here since 2003.
Meanwhile, the three-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova and reigning Wimbledon
champion Petra Kvitova avoided opening-round upsets.
The second-seeded Sharapova dropped only 18 points in a 48-minute 6-0, 6-0
double-bagel pasting of Romania's Alexandra Cadantu, while the fourth-seeded
Kvitova also had little trouble in a 6-1, 6-2 thumping of Australia's Ashleigh
"No matter how good or bad they're playing, you still have to win that match,"
Sharapova said after destroying the helpless Cadantu. "It's always about who
takes their chances."
And Kvitova may have whipped Barty, but liked what she saw in the Aussie's
"She has a big serve with kicks and good forehand," Kvitova said. "She has
very good touch."
Sharapova needs only a title at Roland Garros to complete a career Grand Slam.
The Russian star has won each of the other three major championships once and
last year reached the semifinals in Paris for the second time in nine visits.
"I feel like with every year I have improved and I enjoy it much more,"
Sharapova said. "I think I learn a lot more about the game and the point
construction. I feel like I'm moving a lot better than I did years previously,
which has helped me a lot in the recovery process within the point."
Kvitova denied Sharapova a second Wimbledon crown in last year's finale at the
All England Club for her first career Grand Slam title and is trying to better
her fourth-round result from last year in Paris.
Sharapova's second-round opponent will be Japan's Ayumi Morita, while Kvitova
will encounter Poland's Urszula Radwanska.
Also winning on Tuesday was former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone.
Seeded 14th this year after winning the title in 2010 and finishing as
runner-up to Li Na last year, Schiavone eased past 41-year-old Japanese Kimiko
Date-Krumm 6-3, 6-1.
Sixteenth-seeded Russian glamour girl Maria Kirilenko cruised past France's
Victoria Larriere 6-1, 6-2.
In other action involving seeds, No. 22 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
topped Hungarian Greta Arn 6-4, 6-4, No. 23 Estonian Kaia Kanepi dismissed
Russian Alexandra Panova, 6-3, 6-3, and No. 25 German Julia Goerges got past
Czech Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.
Several other women notched opening-round wins, including the aforementioned
Morita and Radwanska, Britain's Heather Watson, Czech Klara Zakopalova,
Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, and Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. Radwanska is the
younger sister of world No. 3 star Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Sports Network