May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Defending champion Francesca Schiavone started her opening round at the French Open with a straight-set win over Melanie Oudin.
Schiavone, the first Italian to win one of the four tennis majors, defeated the American 6-2, 6-0 on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris.
Oudin, a quarterfinalist at the 2009 U.S. Open, struggled with her serve from the start against the Italian, who beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur in last year’s final. Oudin, one of 9 American women in the draw on the Parisian clay courts, is now 1-9 on clay courts this year. The American has dropped to No. 88 in the rankings, after a career-best No. 31 in April last year.
This season, the now fifth-seeded Schiavone has slowly found the clay-court form that helped her win her first Grand Slam title. She lost her opening round in Stuttgart, made the third round in Madrid, and lost in the quarterfinals in Rome to Stosur. Schiavone made the semifinals in Brussels last week, where she was beaten by No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
In an interview in Rome, Schiavone said defending her French Open trophy will be “very, very tough. But I know that I have the quality, and that’s a good step and a way to start. At the same time, you have to win seven matches. It’s really long.”
Also in action today is Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who plays Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands. The second-ranked Djokovic, unbeaten this season in 37 straight matches, may take the No. 1 ranking from five-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain if he makes the final.
Men’s Grand Slam record holder Roger Federer, who won the title in 2009, meets Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. The third-ranked Swiss hasn’t won a major since he clinched a record-extending 16th Grand Slam title at the 2010 Australian Open. Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, faces Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.
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