Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli didn't have an easy time of it today in her French Open second round match against Mariana Duque-Marino, but she walked away with a 7-6, 7-5 victory. 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone won her second round match (against Kirsten Flikens), too, and now two of the tour's most colorful players will meet in the third round. Schiavone is 5-3 against Bartoli, and the Italian won the only time they played each other on clay, in the semifinals of the 2011 French Open.
Clay is Schiavone's favorite surface; it is Bartoli's least favored. Schiavone has to be considered the favorite here. The contrast of styles provides some intrigue: The Italian is the master of slice and spin, and she can exhibit stunning athleticism. Bartoli, on the other hand, is a fierce returner of serve. Both love the fight. We can count on plenty of grunting (actual grunting, not screaming), fist-pumping, yelling, glaring, and who knows what else. Just something to look forward to.
Bartoli wasn't the only one who had a hard time of it today. Agnieszka Radwanska had one of her "off" days against Dinah Pfizenmaier the German qualifier who beat Radwanska's sister in the second round. Pfizenmaier has some impressive skills, but her tentative forehand led to some poor shot selections, and she lost in straight sets. Radwanska was a step slow throughout most of the match, however, and will definitely have to turn it up a notch to compete with Ana Ivanovic in the next round. Ivanovic defeated Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.
Also advancing to the third round today were Serena Williams, Roberta Vinci, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Carla Suarez Navarro, and Angelique Kerber, who beat Varvara Lepchenko for the first time in her career in what turned out to be a real slug-fest. The other player to advance was 2012 runner-up Sara Errani, who made pretty short work of Sabine Lisicki.
Finishing their matches and advancing to the second round were defending champion Maria Sharapova and Stefanie Voegele. who beat Brussels champion Kaia Kanepi.
Aside from the Bartoli vs. Schiavone match, the most interesting contest--at least in terms of the draw--scheduled for tomorrow is the third round match between Jelena Jankovic and Sam Stosur. Jankovic is 6-2 against Stosur, and beat her this year in Stuttgart. I think another match worth watching is the one between Voegele and Maria Kirilenko.
Victoria Azarenka, not known for her clay court skills, is operating a bit under the radar at Roland Garros, which is probably good for her. Her next opponent is Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, so the world number 3 will feel right at home--the entire crowd will be cheering against her. Should Azarenka win that match, she'll then face either Bartoli (another Frenchwoman) or Schiavone (a beloved former French Open champion). It's a good thing that Azarenka has embraced the "outsider" role.