PARIS (Reuters) - A cacophony of noise on Chatrier Court signaled the belated appearance of women’s third seed Victoria Azarenka at the French Open on Wednesday as the Belarussian eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-4 win over Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
The stadium was barely one-third full as Azarenka went through her paces but the low decibel level from the crowd on another chilly day in Paris was countered by the grunts, howls and groans coming from the two players.
Azarenka just about won the noise battle, although Vesnina ran her close, and she had little trouble winning the match either.
Making her eighth main-draw appearance at the French Open despite being only 23, Azarenka had to wait until the fourth day to begin her challenge after rain on Tuesday meant her first-round match was postponed.
She now faces the prospect of seven matches in 11 days if she is to win the title here.
The twice Australian Open champion has never shone in Paris, with her best performance being the quarter-finals in 2009 and 2011.
“It was great to start and there were some tough points, especially for a first-round match,” Azarenka, who was briefly troubled in the second set, said on court before declaring her love for Paris.
She will face Germany’s Annika Beck in the second round.
Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova also advanced into the second round after fighting off local wild card Aravane Rezai’s bold challenge in a 6-3 4-6 6-2 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Spain’s David Ferrer, the men’s fourth seed, impressed in a 6-2 6-1 6-3 demolition of compatriot Albert Montanes on an outside court to book his place in the third round while Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic ended Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios’s run with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win.
Polish hopes of a third-round meeting between the Radwanska sisters vanished after the fourth-seeded Agnieszka beat American Mallory Burdette 6-3 6-2 but Urszula went out 6-3 6-3 to German Dinah Pfizenmaier.
Reporting by Martyn Herman and Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon