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PARIS, May 29 (Reuters) - Returning to the stage of her greatest triumph inspired defending champion Garbine Muguruza to down 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-4 in the first round of the French Open on Monday.
The fourth seed, who had been woefully out of form in the run-up to Roland Garros, never looked in danger of joining Russian Anastasia Myskina as the only reigning women's champion to lose in the opening round of the claycourt major.
The Spaniard easily outclassed the skilful Italian with her poise and power in muggy conditions.
There were several top-notch rallies and Schiavone pulled a few tricks from her bag, threatening in the second set. However, she made too many unforced errors to sustain any form of challenge.
"I was so excited to play here against another champion. Francesca is a legend," Muguruza said courtside.
"I played my game, which means being aggressive and going forward."
Muguruza raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set and just when Schiavone was starting to work around her opponent's power as she reduced the arrears to 3-2, the match was interrupted for 10 minutes as a spectator was attended to by first-aiders.
The Spaniard won 19 of 20 points after play resumed and led 2-0 in the second set.
That is when Schiavone's game fell into place. She broke back and had two break chances in the sixth game, which Muguruza saw off confidently.
The champion then broke decisively for 5-4. Schiavone saved three match points but volleyed wide on the fourth. (Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar)