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Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 19:44 UK
Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
BBC TV, BBCi, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has yet to get past the semi-finals in Paris

Maria Sharapova was given a huge scare before reaching the second round of the French Open with a 6-1 3-6 8-6 win over fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina.

The top seed struggled throughout in the blustery conditions, committing 68 unforced errors and 17 double faults.

Rodina, 19, had three break points at 4-3 in the decider but Sharapova found her serve when it counted.

And the world number one's experience told as she broke at 6-6 before sealing victory after two-and-a-half hours.

"I was very lucky to win," admitted Sharapova, who only needs to win the French Open to complete a full set of Grand Slam titles.

"Not many things were working for me today after the first set."

Realistically, I don't know if there's any way down from here

Maria Sharapova
Second seed and last year's runner-up, Ana Ivanovic, had a far easier afternoon as she demolished Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-1 6-2.

"I expected a very tough match and prepared myself to work hard for every point, and that's what I did out there," said the Serbian.

"Sometimes she made mistakes I didn't expect but I'm really happy with the way I played. To win with a score like this, it's definitely great proof that I played good today."

Fifth seed Serena Williams did not have it all her own way, with French wildcard Mathilde Johansson serving for the second set before the 2002 champion came back to win 6-2 7-5.

"I didn't want to go three sets today. I thought I could close it out in two sets and it was getting dark," said Williams.

"I'm tired of playing so late and in the dark and I was like, OK, I'm going to close it out before then."

Sharapova, who became world number one following Justine Henin's retirement, had to wait until Wednesday to begin her title campaign in rainy Paris.

But once on court, she looked unlikely to be held up for long by 19-year-old Grand Slam debutant Rodina.

Sharapova swept through the first set in 29 minutes, but then began to struggle in the gusty wind.

Rodina broke serve to go 2-0 up in the second set and, helped by a catalogue of errors from her misfiring opponent, held on to that advantage until 5-3 when she clinched a second break to level the match.

The 19-year-old appeared to be struggling with cramp as the deciding set progressed but that did not stop her earning three break points for a 5-3 lead.

But Sharapova delivered three huge serves to save them and then recovered from 0-30 down and two points from defeat at 4-5 before a tiring Rodina finally succumbed.

Sharapova said she only had herself to blame for her struggles.

"I was quite tentative, giving her opportunities to take control of the points," she said.

"I was trying to maybe be somebody that I'm not and that can get you in trouble. When you are out there playing under-14 tennis and pushing balls, you create your own problems.

"At the end of the day, you are fortunate to get through the match, fortunate you're giving yourself another opportunity to get better.

"Because realistically, I don't know if there's any way down from here."

The top seed will face American Bethanie Mattek in the second round.

Seventh seed Elena Dementieva recovered from losing the first set to see off fellow Russian Vera Dushevina 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-2.

Another Russian, sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze, overcame some tricky moments to beat Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-3 5-7 6-1.

But ninth seed Marion Bartoli is out after slipping to a 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-2 defeat by Australia's Casey Dellacqua.

"Since the beginning of this year I've been playing and I felt tired," said Bartoli.

"I thought, well, this is probably psychological, but it's five months I've been feeling this, in this state, being very tired."

see also
French Open pictures
28 May 08 |  Tennis
Mauresmo through in rainy Paris
27 May 08 |  Tennis
French Open men's live scores
23 May 08 |  Tennis
French Open women's live scores
23 May 08 |  Tennis

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