Serena in historic defeat, Nadal, Sharapova cruise

Chris Wright
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Serena Williams protests a call

American Serena Williams protests a call during a match with France's Virginie Razzano at the French Open in Paris. Williams bowed out in a three-set shocker to 111th-ranked home hope Razzano in the pair's first meeting which the Frenchwoman clinched 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in 3hr 03min

Serena Williams suffered an historic Grand Slam defeat in the French Open first round on Tuesday, the worst of her career, while Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova eased through.

Former champion and fifth seed Williams bowed out in a three-set shocker to 111th-ranked home hope Virginie Razzano in the pair's first meeting which the Frenchwoman clinched 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in 3hr 03min.

"I knew I had it in me and I dug deep inside myself to find it," gasped Razzano, a 29-year-old from Dijon, who spurned seven match points in a nailbiting finale before her rival finally hit long to concede the contest and spark pandemonium among her noisy home support.

Serena's loss constituted a first ever opening round Grand Slam loss for the 30-year-old holder of an WTA Tour-leading 13 major titles for players still active, in this her 47th appearance at a major.

Her previous worst Slam showing had been a second round loss to her sister Venus on her 1998 debut at the Australian Open.

"I'm disappointed, but that's life, things could be worse," said Williams, who missed last year's Roland Garros as she battled life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.

"I've been through so much in my life. I'm not sitting here happy. I've gotta figure out what I did wrong and not do it again. I fought until the end."

Nadal, bidding for a record seventh men's crown, endured no such problems as the Spaniard, beaten only once in his entire career at the venue, as he attempts to go one better than Bjorn Borg's six titles, overcame a second-set blip to thrash Italian journeyman Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

Despite the wide margin of his win Nadal, whose record in Paris is now 46-1, insisted he had had to battle some early butterflies.

"All matches are always difficult - the more so here, as you are a bit more nervous. It's not easy to get your bearings right off as the court is big and it's difficult out there," said the Mallorcan, who is looking to join Borg and Rod Laver on 11 Grand Slam singles titles.

"But I'm always happy to play here - it's an incredible feeling."

Despite dropping his service once midway through the second set Nadal won comfortably in 1hr 58min to book a meeting with Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who whipped Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

Also moving through among the men was British fourth seed Andy Murray, who crushed Japan's Tatsuma Ito 6-1, 7-5, 6-0.

Likewise into the hat was Murray's potential quarter-final opponent, Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer, who dismissed Slovakia's Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.

Among the women, Sharapova was one of three former grand slam champions to advance, and she had the added bonus of seeing potential last eight opponent Serena crash out.

Sharapova humiliated Romania's Alexandra Cadantu 6-0, 6-0 in just 48 minutes as the Russian second seed, seeking to complete her collection of majors, cruised towards a meeting with Japan's Ayumi Morita, who put out Polona Hercog of Slovenia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Clad in black, and seeking her third claycourt title of the season, Sharapova over-powered her 74th-ranked rival, who failed to hit a single winner.

"Of course I'm really happy with the way my preparation has been coming into this tournament," beamed Sharapova, claycourt winner at Stuttgart and Rome this season as well as twice a semi-finalist here.

"I feel like with every year I have improved and I enjoy it much more," said the 25-year-old, beaten in the last four by Li Na on her last Roland Garros appearance.

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the fourth-seeded Czech, thrashed Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes to join Sharapova in the next round where she meets Urszula Radwanska of Poland.

Also marching on was 2010 Paris champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy, seeded 14, who defeated Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 6-1.

Channel Islands-born Heather Watson, who managed to reach the second round on her debut last year, thereby entering the top 100, meanwhile scored an impressive 6-2, 6-4 win over Russian Elena Vesnina to earn a match-up against Germany's 25th seed Julia Goerges.