The year’s second Grand Slam began on Sunday at Paris’ famed Stade Roland Garros. The prestigious French Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to embrace the Open Era in 1968 and its red clay courts have been graced by many tennis greats like Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Gustavo Kuerten, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. For the Parisians year 1983 holds great importance because Yannick Noah stole the honor as the only Frenchman to win the singles title that year. The tournament also holds immense value for Rafael Nadal, who, in 2014, became the first man in tennis history to win nine Grand Slam titles in a single championship event. On day one at Roland Garros, women’s no.3 seed Simona Halep defeated Russian Evgeniya Rodina; men’s second seed Roger Federer made short work of Colombian Alejandro Falla; no.8 seed Stan Wawrinka beat Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan and Japan’s no.5 seed Kei Nishikori outlasted Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu. Among other notable winners on the opening day were; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; Ekaterina Makarova, Ana Ivanovic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Garbine Muguruza and Ernests Gulbis.
Last year’s runners-up and no.3 seed Simona Halep of Romania entered the second round with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Russian Evgeniya Rodina. It wasn’t a cake-walk for the Romanian though as Rodina fought hard in both sets. Halep’s second round opponent is Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who had defeated Halep in straight sets at 2014 US Open. on Sunday, Lucic-Baroni reached the second round by beating USA’s Lauren Davis 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Roger Federer wore a violet and pink dress in his match against Colombia’s Lucky Loser Alejandro Falla. Showing shades of brilliance, the 2009 French Open Champion beat Falla 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 without much effort. No.8 seed Wawrinka also had an easy passage into the second round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan. But Kei Nishikori had hardly any crowd support, when he played and defeated Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 in the 2 hour 10 minute match. Nishikori won 79 percent of points on first serve including 7 aces. Last year, injury-ridden Nishikori had lost in the first-round but bounced back later in the year to make it to the US Open final.
The crowds were animated when 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his appearance on the Court Philippe Chatrier. Tsonga has missed a better part of the 2015 season because of the right wrist injury but on Sunday the Frenchman looked in terrific form as he blew away the challenge from Swedish qualifier Christian Lindell with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 first round victory.
By and large, men and women’s seeded players went through the second round and out of the 17 seeded players, only two men and two women lost their matches on Sunday. Men’s 26th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, lost after grueling fight with world no. 56 Steve Johnson of US. This was also the only five-setter of the day in which Johnson won 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-3. The other men’s seed to make his exit was no.25 Ivo Karlovic, who lost to Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 4-6, 4-6. Among women, France’s 31st-seeded Caroline Garcia and China’s 24th seed Peng Shuai also lost their first round matches and made an early exit from the French Open.