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By Chris Oddo | Sunday May 27, 2017

svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams advanced into the second round on Sunday in Paris.

Photo Source: AFP

The anybody can win Roland Garros theme suits Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams just fine, and the pair of veterans advanced the narrative with sound straight-sets victories on Sunday in Paris.

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It has been frequently noted that there are many contenders for this crown on the women’s side (perhaps too many to count on both hands), but the names of Williams and Kuznetsova have been mentioned quite regularly in those conversations and for good reason—both enter in good enough form to be considered as threats to make a serious run, and neither did anything to dissuade pundits of that notion on Sunday.

No.8-seeded Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion at Roland Garros, fought off nerves to ease past American Christina McHale, 6-4, 7-5. The Russian notched her 50th Roland Garros match win and set up a second-round encounter with France’s Oceane Dodin (d. Camila Giorgi). Despite the uncomplicated scoreline Kuznetsova knows she’ll need to be better in order to make it deep into this draw.

“I felt like I was playing against myself,” Kuznetsova told reporters after the match. “It was a really difficult match for me.”

The Russian improved to 2-2 lifetime against McHale in their first meeting since 2012 and thumped 34 winners against 32 unforced errors. But she was broken four times and only won 44 of 80 service points over the course of the two hour and five minute tilt.

“I would say I’m physically great but today I couldn’t breathe because of my nerves,” she said. “If I control my nerves I’ll be much better.”

Williams had to endure a few rough spots against China’s Wang Qiang, as she trailed by a break in both the first and second sets, but both times the 36-year-old American rallied to take charge. The No.10 seed advances to face Japan’s Kurumi Nara in the second round.

Williams, making an Open Era record 20th appearance at the French Open, improves to 46-19 at the event. The 2002 runner-up has reached the round of 16 or better in nine of her previous 19 appearances.

Williams cracked 4 aces and 37 winners to earn the 6-4, 7-6(3) victory.


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