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Nadal and Safina dazzle in Paris sun


PARIS (May 25) - World number ones Rafael Nadal and Dinara Safina dazzled their opponents in the Parisian sun on Monday to blaze into the second round of the French Open.

Brazil's Marcos Daniel fought valiantly for almost 2-1/2 hours before suffering the same fate as four-times champion Nadal's previous 28 opponents at the claycourt grand slam, going down 7-5 6-4 6-3.

Roland Garros also caught a brief glimpse of Safina who white-washed Britain's Anne Keothavong 6-0 6-0.

The Paris crowd had barely had time to file into Center Court and settle into their baking-hot plastic seats before the Russian, who looks poised to improve on her 2008 runner-up finish, had dashed back into the cooler confines of the locker room.

So ferocious were Safina's groundstrokes that a linesman was lucky to dodge one of the missiles. Keothavong might have won 33 points but 24 of these came from Safina's unforced errors.

Despite being on the receiving end of the 61-minute hammering, Keothavong at least saw the funny side.

"I'm not going to walk out here and slit my wrists or anything," said Keothavong, who last week became the first British woman in 26 years to reach the semis of a Tour event on clay in Warsaw. "In the end, you just kind of have to find ways to laugh about it. What else is there to do? I'm sure there will be a few jokes about it but I can take it."

Safina's coach, however, was not amused.

"(He felt) I could serve a little bit better and hit the balls a little harder, especially in that love game, 5-0 (in second set), when I pushed a few shots he was angry," said Safina, who has been beaten on clay just once this season.

"He said: 'What's this at 5-0? You have to hit the ball.'"

It is a message Venus Williams could also take on board after her mind went walkabout in the second set during a 6-1 4-6 6-2 win over fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Williams, who owns seven grand slam trophies but has never triumphed at Roland Garros, will next face Czech Lucie Safarova.

Nadal has ruled Roland Garros since 2005 and, as he began his pursuit of a record fifth consecutive title, there was little to suggest that anyone would be able to wrest the title away from him.
source : Reuters.com

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