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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova Favors Grit Over Glamour

APMaria Sharapova returns the ball to compatriot Yevgenia Linetskaya during French Open first-round action Tuesday.
PARIS -- Maria Sharapova dispensed with the glamour and employed her Russian grit to survive a nerve-jangling first round clash with compatriot Yevgenia Linetskaya at the French Open on Tuesday, whilst Marat Safin advanced thanks to a victory over Raemon Sluiter.

The Wimbledon champion and world number two was stretched to the limit by her game opponent but clawed her way to a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory on court Suzanne Lenglen.

A bank of photographers had been attracted by Sharapova's appearance on Roland Garros' second showcourt, but it was the little-known Linetskaya who threatened to perform the star turn.

Shrieking with effort and frustration, Sharapova eventually negotiated her way past her fellow 18-year-old, though, and faces either France's Camille Pin or Aravane Rezai next.

Third-seeded Safin advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Sluiter. Two-time Grand Slam winner Safin has not been beyond a quarterfinal in any tournament since winning the Australian Open at the start of the year. He has 15 career titles and next plays qualifier Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic. Safin, who has won titles at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, said pre-tournament that winning at Roland Garros was more important to him than anything else in tennis.

"That's my goal for the whole career. I'm trying, and I will try, try to win it. I always played well there, but for some reason I couldn't," Safin said. "I was missing something extra, you know, to win it."

Safin's love affair with Paris extends beyond the clay courts.

"The whole thing, the whole scene. I mean, like the Paris atmosphere," he said. "The city, people, the courts. The way the people run the tournament, the way the people love this tournament. All these kind of things make it so special."

Other round-one victors included Russians Mikhail Youzhny, Igor Andreyev and Nikolai Davydenko, Switzerland's Roger Federer, Spain's Rafael Nadal, Briton Tim Henman and Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne. The first shock of the mens' competition was produced by Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen, who ousted American Andre Agassi 7-5, 4-6, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0.

(AP, Reuters, MT)