You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Nishikori out, Sharapova waltzes through to second round

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Linda Pearce, Paris
Maria Sharapova had an easy passage into the second round. © Getty Images Maria Sharapova had an easy passage into the second round.

With the demise of Kei Nishikori, the French Open men's draw lost its first single-figure seed early on a damp second day at Roland Garros.

The Japanese ninth seed, a finalist in Madrid and winner of his first career claycourt title in Barcelona earlier this season, was upset 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 6-2 by Slovakian Martin Klizan in a match delayed by rain for more than an hour.

Now coached by 1989 French champion Michael Chang, Nishikori was outplayed by the 2006 French boys' champion after a tight first set, perhaps still troubled slightly by the back problem that caused his retirement against Rafael Nadal in Madrid and then kept him out of the subsequent Rome Masters.

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova's problem is not injury, now that her latest shoulder issues are behind her, or form, or her recent record on the surface where she once described herself as moving like a "cow on ice". Instead, it is the fact that the 2012 champion is likely to collide with her nemesis, Serena Williams, in the quarter-finals.

Seventh-seeded Sharapova appeals as the second favourite behind defending champion Williams for the title, but could face Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova - who beat Virginie Razzano 7-5, 6-0 on Monday - in the fourth round for the right to play Williams in the last eight.

Sharapova is 12-1 on clay this season, garnering titles in Stuttgart and Madrid, having lost last year's Roland Garros final to Williams in straight sets. A rematch, at this stage, is far from her mind, with a 6-1, 6-2 drubbing of Russian qualifier Ksenia Pervak carrying her only as far as a second round against Tsvetana Pironkova.

"It's tough to think about that match down the line where you have to compete in three matches before that, you know, three more,'' Sharapova said. "Obviously it's a match that many people always look forward to when we play against each other.

"But in many ways, it doesn't matter if it's fourth round or the quarter-final, semis, final. I mean, there is only one champion at a tournament. So it's not really about when you face somebody. It's about who comes through.''

On Monday, Sharapova did so. Comfortably. "I think going into a first-round match at a Grand Slam, you want to be solid, you want to do the things you need to do. It's never easy, no matter how good you're feeling before or bad you're feeling. It's just a different story once you get on the court. I thought I did what I had to do very well.''

Kei Nishikori of Japan hits a forehand against Martin Klizan. © Getty Images Kei Nishikori of Japan hits a forehand against Martin Klizan.

More From Canberra Times

Canberra Times
Canberra Times
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon