Soderling, Venus, Kuznetsova kick start French Open

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By Miles Evans

Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova kicks off the action on Philippe Chatrier Court while last year's men's surprise package Robin Soderling, now seeded fifth, also makes a first day bow.

In previous years a first-round clash with wily Patty Schnyder may have looked a potential bananaskin for Williams but the 31-year-old Swiss has struggled with injury this season and succumbed to the American for the loss of just four games in Rome earlier this month.

Venus, who has won all 10 previous encounters against Schnyder, made her Roland Garros debut in 1997, a year after the Swiss, and made her only final appearance in 2002 when she lost to sister Serena.

Soderling sent a seismic wave through Paris 12 months ago when he inflicted Rafa Nadal's first ever defeat on the red clay of Roland Garros in the fourth round.

Soderling takes on French wildcard Laurent Recouderc, who has never passed the second round here.

One French contender with slightly more aspirations of progress is eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who closes out the action on the main showcourt against German Daniel Brands.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)