Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Get Off to Winning Start
French Open: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams all registered a three set victory in their opening round matches in Paris.
Rafael Nadal beat German Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 in Round 1. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Paris: Claycourt master Rafael Nadal quickly adapted to the new surroundings at Roland Garros with a 6-2 6-1 6-3 demolition of German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the French Open on Monday.
On a revamped Court Philippe Chatrier, the 11-times champion wasted little time in despatching Hanfmann after the German had the audacity to say in the run up to the match that he could do 'some damage'.
Nadal will next meet another qualifier, German Yannick Maden.
Hanfmann failed to seize potential opportunities as Nadal, who usually starts slowly at Roland Garros, limited his unforced errors to 11.
The quest for perfection has always defined Nadal and the win improved his Roland Garros record to a remarkable 87-2. The Spaniard is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.
"What I did during all my career probably is go on court with the goal to improve something, and that makes me feel alive always and makes me feel passionate about the process of improving anything," the second seed explained.
After suffering consecutive semi-final exits in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid this season, questions were asked about Nadal's form heading into his favourite Grand Slam.
He answered many of those doubts by beating rival Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open title in Rome, but even that was not enough to convince Nadal that he was ready for Paris.
"It's very difficult to be convinced that you're okay. I don't know if many people are convinced about anything in this life," he said.
"I think when you're convinced about something, you're very arrogant, because most of the time you can hope that something is going to happen, and have the desire for something to happen.
"But to be convinced, I'm almost convinced about nothing in this world."
NOVAK DJOKOVIC WINS
Novak Djokovic defeated young Polish player Hubert Hurkacz. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Top seed Novak Djokovic eased into the second round of the French Open on Monday with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 defeat of young Polish player Hubert Hurkacz.
The 32-year-old Serb is bidding for a second Roland Garros title and to become the first man in the professional era to hold all four Grand Slam titles on two separate occasions.
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal, the man most likely to block Djokovic's path to a second "Nole Slam", had earlier launched his bid for a 12th title on the Parisian clay in sublime fashion.
But Djokovic more than matched the Spaniard's display with a near faultless performance in the afternoon sunshine on Court Philippe Chatrier to seal a 22nd consecutive win in Grand Slam play since losing in the quarter-finals here last year.
He broke serve in the opening game on his way to taking the opening set in routine fashion and the only blip was when he dropped serve at 4-1 in the second set.
The match was more or less in the bag by then, however, and Djokovic cantered to victory to set up a second-round clash with Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen.
SERENA WILLIAMS OVERCOMES WOBBLY START
Serena Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title, overcame a wobbly start to reach the second round of the French Open with a 2-6 6-1 6-0 victory against Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko on Monday.
The 10th-seeded American peppered Court Philippe Chatrier with unforced errors in an ugly opening set before finding her range to set up a meeting with Japan's Kurumi Nara or Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic.
"I'm just happy to win today," the American said after her 800th tour-level victory.
The three-times Roland Garros champion is looking to emulate Margaret Court, who claimed 24 majors spread across the amateur and professional eras.
Williams's haul started at the U.S. Open 20 years ago but she has not won a major since she beat her older sister Venus in the Australian Open final in 2017.
She produced a see-saw display in an half-empty stadium on Monday, struggling to adapt to windy conditions in chilly weather.
Diatchenko broke in the fifth game with a crosscourt backhand winner to open a 3-2 lead, and won on her opponent's serve again in the seventh game to secure the opening set.
Then Williams fired up the engine and raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, losing only one more game as Diatchenko faded away.
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