Big guns make sound start

Tsonga, Stosur and Jankovic sail through; Cilic bows to Hidalgo on opening day

 Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez returns during her upset win over Shahar Peer. AFPStosur shook off the effects of a virus to beat Czech Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-3 on a sunbathed, yet windswept court Philippe Chatrier.

"The conditions weren't always so easy with some gusts of wind and whatever else, but, yeah, overall, very happy," said Stosur, who noticed with a smile that there "weren't quite as many people this time".

The claycourt French Open is the only Grand Slam event to start on a Sunday rather than the traditional Monday and the feeling is quite bizarre, according to Stosur, who lost to Italian Francesca Schiavone in last year's final.

"With all the others not doing it, it definitely is a bit of, not a shock, but it's just weird knowing that, okay, my tournament starts on Sunday and then I think you get two days off now," she explained.

"So it's just a bit of a different feel, and I guess there's still a lot more people here practising today than playing matches."

The crowd grew bigger on court Philippe Chatrier when local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sparked off his campaign but the fireworks did not last long as the 17th seed spent less than two hours to dismiss Czech Jan Hajek 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Serbian Jelena Jankovic, a three-times semifinalist in Paris, was also untroubled on court Suzanne Lenglen as she breezed past Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko 6-3, 6-1.

This year's French Open has been hit hard by injuries and Hewitt, the Australian former world number one, added to the list of absentees when he pulled out because of a left ankle problem.

American Andy Roddick and former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero both pulled out on the eve of the year's second Grand Slam, joining the likes of Serena and Venus Williams and Dinara Safina in being forced to miss out.

Croatian Marin Cilic would certainly get the feeling his tournament was finished before it had properly started as the 19th seed was sent packing with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.

There was no smell of an upset on as seventh seed David Ferrer of Spain thrashed Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to advance into round two.

French women players wore a black ribbon in memory of Virginie Razzano's coach and fiance Stephane Vidal, who died of a brain tumour earlier this month.

"It's really moving for all of us, and I'm a good friend of Virginie's. I play with her, I play doubles with her. We wanted to do something," Alize Cornet, who booked her place in the second round, told reporters.

First round results 

 (Prefix denotes seeding): Men’s singles:  31-Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) bt David Guez (Fra) 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Esp) bt 19-Marin Cilic (Cro) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4; 7-David Ferrer (Esp) bt Jarkko Nieminen (Fin) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1; Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Lu Yen-hsun (Twn) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

Women’s singles: 10-Jelena Jankovic (Srb) bt Alona Bondarenko (Ukr) 6-3, 6-1; Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Esp) bt 19-Shahar Peer (Isr) 7-6 (7-4), 6-1; Rebecca Marino (Can) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) 6-3, 6-3; Alize Cornet (Fra) bt Renata Voracova (Cze) 6-4, 6-2; 32-Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) bt Casey Dellacqua (Aus) 7-5, 6-3; Gisela Dulko (Arg) bt Irina Falconi (US) 6-3, 6-4; 8-Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Iveta Benesova (Cze) 6-2, 6-3.

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