Kuznetsova beats Cirstea at French Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/k/kuznetsova1.jpg' class='caption'> Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has overcome a slow start to beat Sorana Cirstea in the opening center-court match at the French Open.

Updated: May 23, 2010 10:54 IST
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"kuznetsova-s.jpg"Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova reeled off 11 of the last 12 games to move into the French Open second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Romania's Sorana Cirstea on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Kuznetsova arrived in Paris having won just one claycourt match this season and was in trouble early on against her 20-year-old opponent who made the quarter-finals last year.

Kuznetsova was 1-3 down as Cirstea, the world number 34 who just missed out on a seeding, quickly settled into her rhythm on a sweltering spring day in Paris.

But the Russian, who had won the pair's only other clash in the second round of the 2008 US Open, rattled off the next five games to claim the opener after 38 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Kuznetosva then sped into a 3-0 lead in the second set before Cirstea got on the board again.

But the champion was quickly back on top, wrapping up the tie after 72 minutes.

The Russian sixth seed will face either compatriot Elena Vesnina or Germany's Andrea Petkovic for a place in the last 32.

Also going through in early action were Slovakia's 26th seed Dominika Cibulkova and South African qualifier Chanelle Scheepers who reached the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a straight sets win over French wildcard Mathilde Johannson.

Later Sunday, world number two Venus Williams, whose best performance in Paris remains her runners-up spot to sister Serena in 2002, opens her campaign against Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, a two-time quarter-finalist.

Williams has won all of the pair's 10 meetings in a sequence stretching back 12 years.

In men's first round action, Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling, last year's runner-up to Roger Federer after sending four-time champion Rafael Nadal to a first career defeat here, starts against France's Laurent Recouderc.

Eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France's best hope of a first home win since Yannick Noah in 1983, faces Germany's Daniel Brands.

Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, who knocked Federer out of the Rome Masters before going on to make the semi-finals, tackles France's Julien Benneteau.

Gulbis, currently at a career high of 27 in the world, reached the quarter-finals here in 2008.

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