Nadal, Djokovic cruise through in Paris

Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action against France’s Benoir Paire.
Picture: Reuters

Rafael Nadal launched his pursuit of a record 10th French Open title in convincing fashion, while defending champion Novak Djokovic eased to victory under the gaze of new coach Andre Agassi.

Reigning women’s champion Garbine Muguruza began her Roland Garros defence with a straight-sets triumph over 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone.

Nadal, who was forced to withdraw before last year’s third round with a wrist injury, brushed aside 45th-ranked Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 inside two hours.

“I’m very happy to be back here after what happened last year. It’s great to feel the support,” the 14-time major champion said.

Nadal broke Frenchman Paire eight times and recovered from a slight second-set wobble when he dropped serve twice in a row to surge into a round two meeting with Dutchman Robin Haase.

“[Paire] was not an easy opponent in the first round. He’s an uncomfortable opponent, who already has had some good victories this year,” Nadal said.

Title-holder Djokovic strolled through his opener against Marcel Granollers of Spain, advancing 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

With 1999 French Open champion Agassi in the players’ box for the first time after agreeing to a short-term coaching role, Djokovic experienced some trouble against the world No 77, being broken four times.

“It’s great to have Andre Agassi as coach and as a mentor. I will try to learn as much as I can from him,” Djokovic said.

The Serb, seeking to become the first man in the Open era to win all four majors on at least two occasions, will take on Portugal’s Joao Sousa next.

Muguruza’s middling form this season saw her arrive in Paris with just three wins on clay, but the Spaniard dispatched former Paris champion Schiavone 6-2, 6-4.

The fourth seed will meet Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit for a place in round three as Schiavone, who turns 37 in June, bids farewell to the tournament for perhaps the final time.

“I cannot believe in the first round we have two ex-champions. Not only that, but Francesca is a legend and I was very excited to play on Philippe Chatrier court with her,” Muguruza said.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova won for just the third time in six visits, with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over China’s Zheng Saisai. – AFP

Leave a Reply