Azarenka, Radwanska and Li advance

Victoria Azarenka returns the ball to Alberta Brianti during the French Open in Paris on Monday,...

Victoria Azarenka returns the ball to Alberta Brianti during the French Open in Paris on Monday, May 28, 2012. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 4:00 PM ET

PARIS - World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and defending champion Li Na posted first-round victories at the French Open on Monday.

Azarenka rallied her way past Italy's Alberta Brianti, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2, at the world's lone clay-court Grand Slam event.

"Sometimes I felt it was not my day. Sometimes I thought, 'Yeah, maybe I still fight, I still have a chance,"' Azarenka said. "Sometimes it was like, you know what? Forget it. I don't want to do it."

A sloppy Azarenka piled up 60 unforced errors on Day 2.

"I think it says it all. Bad days happen," Azarenka said. "Unfortunately today I had way more mistakes than I usually do, but, you know, it happens sometimes."

The 22-year-old Azarenka, who won her first major title at the Australian Open back in January, improved to 36-3 this season. She will face little-known German Dinah Pfizenmaier in the second round.

The consistent Pole Radwanska dismantled Serb Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 6-0, while Li handled Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-1 to advance.

Up next for Radwanska will be seven-time major titlist and former French Open runner-up Venus Williams, who is unseeded here.

The seventh-seeded Li, of China, 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 Aussie Samantha Stosur in the 2010 championship match here.

Li's second-round opponent will be France's own Stephanie Foretz Gacon.

Eighth-seeded French crowd favourite Marion Bartoli cruised past Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-3. The dangerous Bartoli was a Wimbledon runner-up in 2007 and reached the semis here in Paris last year.

Two-time Grand Slam runner-up Vera Zvonareva withdrew from the event shortly before her first-round match on Monday, citing a right shoulder injury.

The 11th-seeded Russian was replaced in the draw by Kazakhstani lucky-loser Sesil Karatantcheva, who was a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros as a 15-year-old in 2005. Karatantcheva dismantled Hungarian Timea Babos 6-1, 6-0 on Monday.

Capable American Bethanie Mattek-Sands upset oft-injured 12th-seeded German Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3; 15th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova, a semifinalist here in 2009, cruised past Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-2, 6-1; Swedish veteran Sofia Arvidsson knocked out 17th-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci 6-2, 4-6, 6-3; 18th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta overcame Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2; and 19th-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia overcame Austrian Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. The former U.S. Open runner-up Jankovic is a three-time French Open semifinalist.

Meanwhile, 24th-seeded Czech Petra Cetkovska bested Romanian Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3; 27th-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova handled Czech Iveta Benesova 6-3, 6-3; 29th-seeded Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues beat British lucky-loser Laura Robson 6-2, 6-1; American teenager Lauren Davis doused 30th-seeded German Mona Barthel 6-1, 6-1; 31st-seeded Chinese Zheng Jie got past France's Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-4; and Russian Nina Bratchikova dismissed 32nd-seeded Romanian Monica Niculescu 0-6, 6-3, 6-3. Halep was a runner-up in Brussels, while Cornet was a runner-up in Strasbourg last week.

In other matches involving American women, Christina McHale overcame Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; Vania King drubbed Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva 6-4, 6-2; Sloane Stephens beat Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-6 (8-6); and Varvara Lepchenko edged out Russian Ksenia Pervak 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4.

The American ladies were a perfect 10-0 over the first two days of the fortnight.

Several other women reached the round of 64, including the aforementioned Foretz Gacon, South African Chanelle Scheepers, Belarusian Olga Govortsova, and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.

The first round is scheduled to wrap up here on Tuesday, including matches for pre-tournament favourites Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.

The second-seeded former No. 1 Sharapova will open up against Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, while the fifth-seeded former top-ranked Serena will be opposed by France's Virginie Razzano.

The three-time Grand Slam titlist Sharapova needs a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, while Serena owns 13 major titles, including a French Open one 10 years ago. The powerful Serena already owns a coveted career Grand Slam.

Also on the Day-3 schedule are fourth-seeded Wimbledon runner-up Petra Kvitova, ninth-seeded former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and a 14th-seeded Schiavone, who is seeking a third straight trip into the French final. The 31-year-old Schiavone will take on 41-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm in her opener.

The 2012 Roland Garros champ will pocket $1.57 million.


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