SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ It was a Russian shooting gallery against Slovakia on Wednesday (Tuesday night EDT) at the Sydney Games.

Russia made 18 of its first 20 shots and strongly closed its opening round of the Olympic men's water polo tournament with an 21-5 victory over winless Slovakia.

The Russians, 4-0-1, are guaranteed a share of the Group A lead and are in Friday's quarterfinals.

Slovakia, competing in its first Olympic water polo tournament, will play off for ninth through 12th places this weekend.

If Slovakia hoped to end its Olympic drought in this one, the Russians quickly set things straight. Revaz Chomakhidze had three of his six goals in the first five minutes and Russia was up 7-1 after a quarter.

Slovakia changed goalies, but it didn't help. The lead grew to 12-2 at the half and 18-3 through three quarters.

The Russians missed only five of 26 shots.

When Slovakia goalie Michal Gogola made a late save on Dmitry Stratan, it brought claps from the Slovak fans.

Alexander Erychov had five goals for Russia, which can enter the quarterfinals as the top seed from Group A depending on Italy's later match with Kazakstan.