Djokovic, Nadal, Serena Williams through to second round of French Open
Three of the big names in tennis Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams progressed to the second round at the French Open yesterday with straight sets victories.
Djokovic advanced with what ultimately became a routine win over the veteran Jarkko Nimenen. It took just over two hours - the Serb’s only blip came in the second set when he had to come from 2-5 down before clinching it 7-5.
After that, the 33-year-old Finn was battling against the inevitable and he lost the third set 6-2.
By contrast the defending champion Rafael Nadal was always in control against the French 18-year-old Quentin Halys who was playing his first match at a grand slam.
It was 6-3 6-3 6-4 to the nine times champion who predicted big things for the teenager.
“It is not easy to play on centre court for the first time here at Roland Garros and he is from France so he did well,” said Nadal. “He played well and he has the right conditions to be a great player. But it is always the same. If you are able to keep improving, you have a great chance to be a great player but if not it will be more difficult. It was the same for me at 16 or 17. You have to keep working with humility and knowing that things are difficult even if you are young and playing on centre court playing at the French Open.”
Nadal was frequently left reeling and the partisans cooing as the teenager produced winners from all parts of the court.
“He plays the new tennis,” said the 28-year-old Spaniard. “Obviously, he played with some mistakes. But when you want to take a risk on every single ball, the mistakes are there. But tennis is moving that way. Young players on the tour are moving to hit the ball harder and more quickly, going for winners all the time. When Halys played like this and the balls landed in, there was nothing I could do.”
Nadal’s compatriot David Ferrer also enjoyed a straight sets win. The 2013 finalist had too much guile for the unseeded Slovakian Lukas Lacko. The Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic also cruised into the second round – 6-2 6-4 6-2 – against the unseeded Dutchman Robin Haase.
The main surprise in the men’s draw on the third day was the straight sets defeat of the Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov. The unseeded American Jack Sock accounted for him on Court 1.
In the women’s draw, last year’s semi-finalist Eugénie Bouchard crashed out. The Canadian sixth seed lost 6-4 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic from France. She almost capitalised on Mladenovic’s nerves surging from 0-5 in the second set to 4-5. Mladenovic managed to keep her poise when serving for the match for a third time.
While Bouchard cracked, the Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova wobbled. She was taken to three sets by Marina Erakovic from New Zealand. It was 6-4 in the decider after two hours and 25 minutes.
Top seed Serena Williams looked rusty in patches but she needed less than an hour to dispatch the unseeded Czech Andrea Hlavackova 6-2 6-3. Sterner tests await the 33-year-old American who is seeking her third Roland Garros title and her 20th grand slam crown.
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