Nadal and Safina shine at the Open

OUTSTRETCHED: Defending champion Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Brazil's Marcos Daniel during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris yesterday. 25/05/09. Pic. Christopher Ena. © AP.
OUTSTRETCHED: Defending champion Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Brazil's Marcos Daniel during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris yesterday. 25/05/09. Pic. Christopher Ena. © AP.

PARIS - RAFAEL Nadal, bidding for an historic fifth successive French Open title, swept into the second round yesterday, while women's top seed Dinara Safina engineered a brutal centre court humiliation.

Top seed and world number one Nadal saw off plucky Brazilian qualifier Marcos Daniel 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 to take his Roland Garros career record to 29 wins in 29 matches.

He will now face either Igor Kunitsyn or Teimuraz Gabashvili, both Russians, for a place in the last 32.

Women's world number one Safina handed out a 6-0, 6-0 mauling to Anne Keothavong as the Russian's howitzer hitting ruthlessly exposed the Briton's glaring weaknesses.

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

Also making progress were third seed Venus Williams, the 2002 runner-up, who saw off Amercian compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Japanese Ai Sugiyama went out 6-3, 6-2 to France's Aravane Rezai.

Elsewhere, in the men's first round, Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko, twice a semi-finalist, eased past Austria's Stefan Koubek 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 with compatriot Mikhail Youzhny also advancing with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-1, 6-4 win over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller. - Sapa/AFP

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