Belfast Telegraph

French Open: Andy Murray prepared for Tatsuma Ito

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray will finally begin his French Open campaign later today when he takes on Japan's Tatsuma Ito in the first round at Roland Garros.

The fourth seed has had to wait until the third day of action to get started, and he will have some more hanging around to do with his match scheduled as the last on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Ito certainly should not have given Murray any sleepless nights in the long build-up. The 24-year-old is at a career-high ranking of 68th but spends most of his time playing on hard courts in the Far East and will be making his main-draw debut at Roland Garros.

The pair have only met once before, in a doubles match in Tokyo last year, but Murray is confident he knows what to expect from Ito.

The Scot said: "I have seen his game before and hit balls against him. He's quite a flat hitter of the ball, a pretty good ball striker."

Heather Watson and Anne Keothavong are also in action today and hoping to do better than Elena Baltacha and Laura Robson, who could not make the most of her second chance as she lost 6-2 6-1 to 29th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Robson was given a lucky loser spot after initially falling in the final round of qualifying but it was a very tough ask against a player who has won 10 WTA Tour titles on clay - the most of any active player.

The pair also met in the second round at the US Open last summer, and although the scoreline was similar, Robson felt she had played a better match here.

The 18-year-old said: "It's a tough one, because I feel she's better on clay. She has a lot more time on the ball. At the US Open I felt that I didn't play as aggressive, so it's good that I'm stepping in more.

"But with stepping in more comes more mistakes. So there's a lot of things to work on."

Watson, who has qualified for the tournament for a second successive year, is first on Court Six against Elena Vesnina, while Keothavong is on the same court later against Melinda Czink.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer safely negotiated first-round matches against Potito Starace and Tobias Kamke respectively yesterday, while defending women's champion Li Na eased past Sorana Cirstea.

But world number one Victoria Azarenka narrowly avoided becoming the first top seed in the women's singles at Roland Garros ever to lose in the first round when she fought back from a set and 4-0 down against Alberta Brianti.

Rafael Nadal launches his title defence today against Italy's Simone Bolelli while Serena Williams takes on Virginie Razzano and Maria Sharapova meets Alexandra Cadantu.

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