Paris: Defending champion Nadal got his bid for a record-extending 12th French Open title off to the perfect start by brushing aside German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round at Roland Garros on Monday. The 17-time Grand Slam champion cruised to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory on the rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a clash with another German qualifier — world number 114 Yannick Maden — in round two. Nadal had suffered three consecutive semi-final defeats earlier in the clay-court season, but appeared to find his best in an Italian Open title success sealed with victory over old rival Novak Djokovic, while his French Open win-loss record now reads 87-2.
“It’s always amazing to play here, the new Chatrier is very nice,” the second seed said. “It’s been an important place in my career. “I played a good tournament in Rome which was very important for my confidence. Now we’ll see.” The 32-year-old Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening set before a second break of serve in the eighth game sealed it after just 40 minutes. The second set was over in a flash as Nadal crushed nine winners past his beleaguered opponent. The winning line honed into view when Nadal broke after a lengthy game to take a 2-1 advantage in the third, and the Spaniard completed the job on his first match point as world number 184 Hanfmann blasted long.
Later in the day, world number one Djokovic will start his tilt for a fourth straight Grand Slam title against Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz, before 23-time women’s major champion Serena Williams takes on Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko. Earlier on Monday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki collapsed to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Russian world number 68 Veronika Kudermetova in the first round. The Danish 13th seed had retired injured from her two previous matches in the lead-up to Roland Garros, and fell away badly after a strong first set. “I think she got very lucky at the start of the second set and took advantage of the opportunities she got,” said Wozniacki.
“I ran out of steam in the end and made some unforced errors that I don’t usually do, so that was very frustrating.” Sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was forced to pull out before her scheduled opener against Sorana Cirstea with a left arm injury, but said she should be fit for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1. “(I’ll be out for) two to three weeks, so I’ll do some fitness and everything that I can do to prepare my body for the tennis on the grass,” said the Czech. Dutch fourth seed Kiki Bertens looked in fine fettle, though, beating home player Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-4.
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty saw off American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-3, while Britain’s Johanna Konta clinched her first Roland Garros win at the fifth time of asking with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over German Antonia Lottner. In the men’s event, Australian Alex De Minaur, seeded 21st, beat the United States’ Bradley Klahn 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, although Georgian 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili fell to a surprising 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 thrashing at the hands of Argentinian world number 78 Juan Ignacio Londero. Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev also exited the tournament, blowing a two-set lead to lose 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Djokovic impresses: Djokovic laid down an early marker in his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time, powering past Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz. The 15-time major champion impressed in a 6-4 6-2 6-2 triumph and will face Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen in round two. “I was very solid. I’m happy with my game today,” said the top seed. “It’s a long tournament… But I just want to concentrate on my next match.”
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