French Open: Safina outplays Keothavong

PARIS: Top seed Dinara Safina handed out a French Open 6-0, 6-0 humiliation to Anne Keothavong on Monday as the Russian's howitzer hitting ruthlessly exposed the Briton's glaring weaknesses.

World number one Safina, the 2008 runner-up here and bidding to win a maiden Grand Slam title, will face compatriot Vitalia Diatchenko, a qualifier, for a place in the last 32.

Keothavong, the world number 48, had come into the tournament buoyed by her performance in Warsaw last week where she became the first British woman in 26 years to make the semi-finals of a WTA event.

But her sun-blessed Roland Garros debut turned into a nightmare on centre court as Safina showed no mercy racing to victory in just over an hour on the back of three breaks of serve in each set.

The 25-year-old Keothavong had the minor satisfaction of saving four match points before the world number one secured victory with another pinpoint, down the line forehand.

It was one of 16 winners for Safina compared to just two for the hapless Briton.

Japanese 33-year-old Ai Sugiyama, playing in her 15th Roland Garros, joined Keothavong at the exit door going down 6-3, 6-2 to France's Aravane Rezai.

Later, top seed Rafael Nadal, bidding for a record fifth successive French Open title, starts his campaign against Brazilian qualifier Marcos Daniel.

World number two Roger Federer, the runner-up to the world number one for the last three years, faces Spain's Alberto Martin.

Maria Sharapova makes her first Grand Slam appearance since Wimbledon last year when she tackles Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus.

Reigning Wimbledon champion, and 2002 runner-up, Venus Williams faces fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.