PARIS: Rafael Nadal, bidding for a record seventh men's crown, and Maria Sharapova, seeking the only Grand Slam she has never won, both raced into the second round of the French Open on Tuesday with emphatic wins.
Nadal, beaten only once in his entire career at the venue as he attempts to go one better than Bjorn Borg's six titles, overcame a second-set blip as he thrashed Italian journeyman Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
Despite the wide margin of his win the Spaniard, whose record in Paris is now 46-1, insisted he had had to battle some early butterflies.
"All matches are always difficult - the more so here, as you are a bit more nervous. It's not easy to get your bearings right off as the court is big and it's difficult out there," said the Mallorcan, who is looking to join Borg and Rod Laver on 11 Grand Slam singles titles.
"But I'm always happy to play here - it's an incredible feeling."
Despite dropping his service once midway through the second set on the Philippe Chatrier showcourt Nadal won comfortably in 1hr 58min to book a meeting with Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who whipped Russian Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
Later among the men, British fourth seed Andy Murray was starting his campaign against Japan's Tatsuma Ito.
Winning through was Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer, who dismissed Slovakia's Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 as he bears down on a potential quarter-final with Murray.
Next up for Ferrer is France's Benoit Paire, who saw off Albert Ramos of Spain in four sets.
Among the women, Sharapova was one of three former grand slam champions to advance in the morning session along with young British hope Heather Watson.
Sharapova humiliated Romania's Alexandra Cadantu 6-0, 6-0 in just 48 minutes as the Russian second seed, seeking to complete her collection of majors, cruised towards a meeting with Japan's Ayumi Morita, who put out Polona Hercog of Slovenia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Clad in black, and seeking her third claycourt title of the season, Sharapova over-powered her 74th-ranked rival, who failed to hit a single winner.
"Of course I'm really happy with the way my preparation has been coming into this tournament," beamed Sharapova, claycourt winner at Stuttgart and Rome this season as well as twice a semi-finalist here.
"I feel like with every year I have improved and I enjoy it much more," said the 25-year-old, beaten in the last four by Li Na on her last Roland Garros appearance.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the fourth-seeded Czech, thrashed Australia's Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes to join Sharapova in the next round where she meets Urszula Radwanska of Poland.
Also marching on was 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy, seeded 14, who defeated Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3, 6-1.
Channel Islands-born Watson, who managed to reach the second round on her debut last year, thereby entering the top 100, scored an impressive 6-2, 6-4 win over Russian Elena Vesnina to earn a match-up against Germany's 25th seed Julia Goerges.
Watson said she has grown immensely as a player since a first nervous second round showing here last season and feels happy on the clay, despite her hardcourt tennis upbringing in Florida.
"I've got nothing to lose," she added of facing Georges, who broke into the world top 20 last season and who made round three here 12 months ago.
Later Tuesday, Sharapova's potential quarter-final rival and 2002 champion Serena Williams, the fifth seed, was tackling France's Virginie Razzano. AGENCIES