0

French Open: Rain cuts play short

PARIS - A photo of Maria Sharapova graced the cover of the French Open's official daily program Tuesday, which might be considered false advertising.

That's because the No. 1-ranked woman didn't play a single point, forced by the wet weather to wait instead until at least Day 4 of the tournament to begin her quest to complete a career Grand Slam.

Rafael Nadal played all of two games of his opening match before collecting his things and trundling off center court, the start of his bid for a fourth consecutive title at the clay-court major halted by one of a series of showers.

Only 13 of 72 scheduled matches were completed, and past major champions Amelie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova were quite pleased to duck into the second round between drizzles.

Yes, Wimbledon has come to Roland Garros, with rain affecting action on all three days so far and allowing for less than 3 hours of play Tuesday. While the All England Club is constructing a dome over Centre Court ahead of the 2009 championship, the French tennis federation has said it might build a retractable roof by 2012.

""We definitely would like to have that,' said the 22nd-seeded Mauresmo, a Frenchwoman who overcame nine double-faults and 35 total unforced errors to beat Olga Savchuk 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

While it's too early in the tournament for too much concern about fitting everything in, players such as Sharapova or Nadal - whose match originally was on Monday's slate before being postponed the first time, and eventually will resume at 1-1 in the first set - already face the prospect of playing on consecutive days if they proceed through the draw.

Then again, Nadal played for seven days in a row last year at Wimbledon, where he reached the final before losing to No. 1 Roger Federer. So don't expect too much sympathy for the second-seeded Spaniard.

""For Nadal, doesn't matter,' said No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, who eliminated 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. ""He can play today, tomorrow, after tomorrow. ... It's no problem for him.'

Not surprisingly, the only five men's matches that finished were straight-set affairs.

In addition to Davydenko - still at the center of the ATP's investigation into irregular betting patterns on a match he played in August - and No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka, winners included Mario Ancic and Robin Soderling.

""It's never easy, a whole day of rain,' said Wawrinka, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. ""Most important is to remain calm, not to stress yourself uselessly, and to be patient.'

Ancic - the last man to beat Federer at Wimbledon, all the way back in 2002 - eliminated No. 31 Andreas Seppi, while Soderling defeated No. 13 Juan Monaco.

Five matches that were suspended in progress Monday and resumed Tuesday still weren't finished; they were supposed to continue today. That includes John Isner of the United States against Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina in an encounter that's tied at 1 in the fifth set. Five other matches that began Monday didn't even pick up again Tuesday.