PARIS May 29 A cacophony of noise on Chatrier Court signalled the belated appearance of women's third seed Victoria Azarenka at the French Open on Wednesday as the Belarusian eased to the second round.
The stadium was barely one third full as Azarenka went through her paces but the low decibel level from the crowd on another chilly day in Paris was countered by the grunts, howls and groans coming from the two players.
Azarenka just about won the noise battle, although Russian Elena Vesnina ran her close, and she had little trouble winning the match either, going through 6-1 6-4.
Incredibly making her eighth main draw appearance at the French Open despite still being only 23, Azarenka had to wait until the fourth day to begin her challenge after rainy weather on Tuesday meant her first-round match was cancelled.
She now faces the prospect of seven matches in 11 days if she is to win the title here.
The twice Australian Open champion has never shone in Paris, with her best performance being quarter-finals in 2009 and 2011.
"It was great to start and there some tough points, especially for a first round match," Azarenka, who was briefly troubled in the second set, said on court before declaring her love for Paris.
She will face Germany's Annika Beck in the second round. (Reporting by Martyn Herman)