x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Smooth start for Venus

Venus Williams, the third seed, began her quest to land a first French Open title with a three-sets victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands yesterday.

Venus Williams, the third seed, began her quest to land a first French Open title with a three-sets victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands yesterday. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, who reached the final in 2002, won the first five games before Mattek asked for a medical time-out during the first set so a trainer could attend to her right wrist.

After losing the first set 6-1, Mattek-Sands rallied in the second and dragged herself back into contention by breaking at 5-4 up to level the match. But Williams proved too strong in the decider, winning the final set 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with Lucie Safarova or Sabine Lisicki. Anne Keothavong, the British No 1, endured a debut to forget at the French Open as she failed to win a single game in a crushing first-round defeat to Dinara Safina, the top seed. Keothavong, 25, arrived in Paris in buoyant mood following her semi-final appearance at a clay-court tournament in Warsaw last week, but Safina, the world No 1, was in a different class in a 6-0, 6-0 rout.

"When that's happening to you all you want to do is get on the scoreboard, but I wasn't able to do that," said Keothavong. Safina was runner-up in Paris last year, losing in the final to Ana Ivanovic, but she is favourite to go one better this year and claim her first grand slam title. Meanwhile, Amelie Mauresmo continued her poor run at her home grand slam - she is yet to progress past the quarter-finals at - by losing 6-4 6-3 to big-hitting German Anna-Lena Groenefeld.

* With agencies