Clay court master Rafael Nadal started his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title with a straightforward 6-4 6-4 6-2 first-round win against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov on Monday.
The Spaniard, looking to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, is used to slow starts at Roland Garros and this year’s debut was no different.
On the revamped court Philippe Chatrier, whose roof stayed open throughout, Nadal converted all of his five break points to set up a meeting with American Mackenzie McDonald.
The second seed, who had complained about the new balls being too heavy, did not appear too bothered in front of some 200 fans.
Earlier, Austria’s Dominic Thiem showed no sign of a hangover from his US Open triumph as he began his campaign with an impressive 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Marin Cilic.
Third seed Thiem, beaten by Nadal in the last two French Open finals, was handed a tough first round against the Croatian former US Open champion, but was straight into the groove.
Cilic, who before Thiem’s Flushing Meadows win this month was the most recent first-time Grand Slam champion courtesy of his New York title in 2014, made things difficult for Thiem with some aggressive tactics but faltered at crucial moments.
In the women’s draw, sixth seed Serena Williams battled sluggish conditions to defeat fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-6(2) 6-0 to begin her campaign..
Williams started with three aces to win her opening game but the 102nd-ranked Ahn started moving better and chased down her opponent’s heavy groundstrokes, which on most surfaces would have ended up as winners.
Ahn, who was making her main-draw debut at Roland Garros, went up 3-1 and served for the set at 5-4 but the 39-year-old Williams rallied each time to force a tiebreaker.
Williams, who has won three of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at Roland Garros, raised her level in the tiebreaker and did not look back from there, handing the hapless Ahn a bagel in the second set.
Two-time Wimbledon champion and Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova meanwhile put in a power-packed show to beat Oceane Dodin 6-3 7-5
Highlights of the second day at the French Open, on Monday (all times GMT):
1740 GIUSTINO OUTLASTS MOUTET IN SIX-HOUR THRILLER
Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino recovered from an opening set bagel to edge home favourite Corentin Moutet 0-6 7-6(7) 7-6(3) 2-6 18-16 in a match lasting over six hours on Court 14.
The fifth set alone lasted three hours and had a total of 11 break points shared between the two players.
The match was the second-longest encounter at Roland Garros, falling 28 minutes short of the 2004 first round epic when Fabrice Santoro beat French compatriot Arnaud Clement in six hours 33 minutes.
1730 MUGURUZA THROUGH AFTER THREE-HOUR BATTLE
Former champion Garbine Muguruza was pushed the distance by Tamara Zidansek before coming out on top in their first round encounter with a 7-5 4-6 8-6 victory on court Simonne Mathieu.
Muguruza had fewer winners and more unforced errors but her extra break proved decisive after three gruelling hours.
1450 FOGNINI MAKES FIRST-ROUND EXIT
Fabio Fognini was knocked out by Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round, with the Kazakh winning 7-5 3-6 7-6(1) 6-0 on Court Simonne Mathieu.
Fognini, ranked 14 in the world, has won only once in four tournaments now since the season restarted last month and the Italian 14th seed was far from his best, making 48 unforced errors.
1350 ERROR-PRONE AUGER ALIASSIME OUT IN STRAIGHT SETS
Canadian youngster Felix Auger Aliassime was knocked out 7-5 6-3 6-3 by Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
Nishioka fired 30 winners past the 19th seed, who made 58 unforced errors and was broken six times.
1305 BERTENS FIGHTS BACK TO BEAT ZAVATSKA
Fifth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens came back from a set down to overcome Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska 2-6 6-2 6-0.
Bertens will next face 2012 finalist Sara Errani, who had to come through qualifying before claiming a 6-2 6-1 opening-round win over Puerto Rican Monica Puig.
1300 DOMINANT THIEM PASSES CILIC TEST
U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem, twice French Open runner-up, recovered from a slow start to beat former world number three Marin Cilic 6-4 6-3 6-3 in just over two hours.
1230 PIRONKOVA GLIDES PAST PETKOVIC
Bulgarian wildcard Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the U.S. Open quarter-finals in her first tour-level appearance since 2017, breezed into the second round in Paris with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.
1045 KVITOVA SAILS INTO SECOND ROUND
Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova advanced to the second round with a 6-3 7-5 victory over local favourite Oceane Dodin, firing eight aces and 30 winners while winning 86% of her first serve points.