Paris, France (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and defending
champion Li Na of China posted first-round victories at the French Open on
Azarenka rallied past Italy's Alberta Brianti by a 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2 margin
at the world's lone clay-court Grand Slam event.
The 22-year-old Azarenka, who won her first Grand Slam event at the Australian
Open this year, improved to 36-3 on the year. She will face German Dinah
Pfizenmaier in the second round.
Li handled Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-1 to advance.
Li became the first-ever Asian Grand Slam winner, male or female, by
besting then-reigning champion Francesca Schiavone in last year's French Open
finale. Schiavone became the first-ever Italian woman to capture a major title
by beating Samantha Stosur in the 2010 final here.
Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, the No. 15 seed, cruised past Kristina Mladenovic
of France 6-2, 6-1.
Cibulkova bounced back from a loss in the first round at Roland Garros last
year. Her best showing in Paris came in 2009 when she reached the semifinals.
The 19th-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia snuck past Austrian Patricia Mayr-
Achleitner 1-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Still in search of a major title, Jankovic has reached the semifinals three
times at the French Open.
Russian Nadia Petrova, the No. 27 seed, handled Czech Iveta Benesova 6-3, 6-3,
while 29th-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues beat Laura Robson 6-2, 6-1.
The 2012 Roland Garros champ will pocket $1.57 million.
The Sports Network