Sick Sharapova Gets Booed as Venus Williams Loses to Stephens

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Maria Sharapova in action against Kaia Kanepi during the 2015 French Open.

Maria Sharapova in action against Kaia Kanepi during the 2015 French Open.

Photographer: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Defending champion Maria Sharapova got booed after battling a cold and a tough opponent to move to the second round of the French Open.

The Russian coughed her way through a 6-1, 6-4 win against Kaia Kanepi, a two-time quarterfinalist from Estonia. Sharapova, who struck 17 winners, got booed by some spectators yesterday after she turned down an on-court post-match interview.

“I totally understand that, everyone usually does post-interviews and answers a few questions to the crowd,” Sharapova said about the booing on the main Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros in Paris.

Although the second-seeded Russian said she’d been struggling with a cold for about a week, she never considered not playing.

“Unless I’m really in my coffin, I’m going to be out there,” she said.

Seven-time major singles winner Venus Williams was knocked out by Sloane Stephens in an all-American clash at the end of day two as daylight fell at Roland Garros.

Stephens finished the 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 match with an ace. Williams, the No. 15 seed, last got past the second round in Paris in 2010.

“I’m very happy,” said Stephens, a former Australian Open semifinalist. “Venus is someone that we all have looked up to for so long.”

Williams declined to speak at a press conference and will probably be fined.

"Sloane Stephens just played better than me today,'' Williams said in a statement. ``I have a little while now between tournaments, so now I'll just ready for the grass at Wimbledon (in five weeks)."

Venus’s younger sister and women’s top seed Serena Williams will be in action today as she opens her quest for a second major title this season against Czech Andrea Hlavackova. Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia meets Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen while defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal of Spain starts his campaign for a tenth title against France’s Quentin Halys.

Andy Murray

Britain’s Andy Murray had no trouble against Argentine Facundo Arguello yesterday, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

The third-seeded Murray, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, extended his win streak on clay to eleven matches. That includes two titles, in Munich and in Madrid, where he defeated Nadal for the first time on the slow surface. Murray has not lost a match since marrying long-time girlfriend Kim Sears in his native Scotland last month.

“My tennis since we got married has been good, I just hope I can keep that up,” Murray said in a court-side interview.

17-Year-Old American

It’s not often a player who loses his first-ever Grand Slam match gets put in the main interview room at Roland Garros after losing.

But Frances Tiafoe is no ordinary player. He’s the first 17-year-old American man in the Roland Garros main draw since Michael Chang in 1989. Tiafoe, who climbed almost 1,000 places on the men’s rankings to No. 287 in the past year, earned a French Open wildcard from the U.S. Tennis Association after good results on the second-tier Challenger circuit.

Unlike Chang, who won the 1989 French Open title, Tiafoe’s Grand Slam debut lasted one hour, 40 minutes.

“It was great, I had a blast,” Tiafoe said in a news conference, after losing to world No. 36 Martin Klizan from Slovakia, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. “I didn’t play my best today. He’s playing very well this year. I knew it was going to be a tough match. In the third set I started playing a little better and had some opportunities. The crowd was great. Hopefully I can play again in the main draw next year.”

Radwanska Ousted

Earlier in the day, Agnieszka Radwanska’s difficult season continued as she was knocked out of the opening round by former junior winner Annika Beck, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

It was the earliest defeat at Roland Garros for Radwanska, a former Wimbledon finalist, since 2007. Last month, Radwanska parted ways with 18-time Grand Slam singles winner Martina Navratilova, who had been coaching her since December. A former second-ranked player, the Polish player has dropped to No. 14 in the rankings.

“It was really strange match,” 2013 quarterfinalist Radwanska told reporters. “I started pretty slow and it was too late in that first set. Was much better in the second set. I thought I’m playing still my game in third set, but just went too fast just other way.”

In the men’s draw, Tomas Berdych, the fourth seed from the Czech Republic, advanced with a straight-set victory over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.

Berdych won 6-0, 7-5, 6-3, getting 42 winners to his 19-year-old opponent’s four. Although the 29-year-old reached the semifinal in 2010, he had also lost five times in the opening round in Paris, so was relieved to move on.

“I just came into the tournament after a very, very good weeks on the clay especially, which is very important to me, Berdych told reporters. ‘‘Been playing a lot of the matches, win a lot of them, and also in between those weeks I had a very good preparation.’’

Fabio Fognini of Italy defeated Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, while eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain eased past Romania’s Monica Niculescu, 6-2, 6-2. France’s Alize Cornet came back to beat Roberta Vinci of Italy, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka cruised past Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain, 6-2, 6-1. Australia’s Samantha Stosur, a former Australian Open winner, beat Madison Brengle of the U.S., 6-1, 6-3.

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