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Sharapova waits as Kuznetsova cruises

Torrential rain swamped Roland Garros on Tuesday leaving the French Open with a backlog of first round matches and Maria Sharapova forced to wait another day to make her 2008 bow.

Only Russian fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and 13th seeded compatriot Dinara Safina were able to complete their opening matches after rain delayed the start of play by three hours.

After a brief respite, the downpours returned leaving organisers with a major scheduling headache.

At 5.30pm (local time) only a total of 58 first round ties had been completed; traditionally, the first round in both the men's and women's tournament is finished by the end of Tuesday.

If the rain failed to relent, organisers would have 70 first round matches uncompleted. They were already forced to switch 30 of the 72 ties that had been programmed to Wednesday.

Sadly for the wet and cold crowd, one of those was top seed Sharapova's match-up against fellow Russian Evgeniya Rodina.

In between the rain, Kuznetsova, the 2006 runner-up to the now-retired Justine Henin, saw off Japan's Aiko Nakamura 6-2, 6-3 and will face either America's Vania King or French wildcard Violette Huck for a place in the last 32.

Kuznetsova, a former US Open champion, took just over an hour to see off world 71 Nakamura as she tries to fulfill Henin's prediction that she could be the likely winner of the 2008 title.

"I spoke to her and she told me that this could be my year and that really cheered me up," said the 22-year-old who was happy to have finished her match.

"I think it's very important, and I'm really happy. I had to wait a little bit. I was first on so I was lucky with that," said Kuznetsova.

"I have the rest of the day to relax, to take it easy."

Safina was also safely through seeing off Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-3 to set up a clash with either Croatia's Karolina Sprem or Slovakian qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova.

"I'm really happy that when I finished then it started to rain," said Safina.

"It's so good that you know your day's finished. Now a few girls are still sitting and waiting to go on court, it's not easy. I've been in this place. Last year I also had to wait six hours for my next match."

Later Tuesday, Rafael Nadal, the triple men's champion, was due to face Brazilian qualifier Thomaz Bellucci with the Spaniard hoping to take a first step towards joining Bjorn Borg as the only man to win four successive men's titles here.

Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko, a semi-finalist in 2007, was taking on Swedish veteran Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open champion.

If he comes through that he could meet compatriot, and former world number one, Marat Safin who was facing Monaco's Jean-Rene Lisnard in his first round.

(via IOL, photo/THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images via Yahoo Sports)

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