PARIS, May 29: Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited show of aggressive groundstroke hitting by lucky loser Simone Bolelli as he launched his campaign for an eleventh crown at the Roland Garros with a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(9) victory on Tuesday.
Resuming the match on Tuesday after a thunderstorm ended the previous night’s play early in the third set, Nadal was forced to an entertaining tiebreak to wrap up a hard-fought French Open first round encounter.
Bolelli resumed play as he had ended the night before: sending down missiles at Nadal from his baseline, seeking to prise open the Spaniard’s defences. Two audacious backhand passing shots on the Nadal first serve and several disguised drop shots brought loud gasps from the crowd.
Third-seed Marin Cilic defeated the unseeded Australian James Duckworth in straight sets in rainy conditions on Tuesday to progress through to the second round of the French Open.
“It’s not often we play in the rain, so it was a bit different… the balls were a little bit heavier, a little bit different, but that’s the special thing about the French Open,” Cilic told the Philippe Chatrier court after his win.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam not to have a roofed court.
Cilic, who reached his third major final in Melbourne this year, was pushed to seven games in the second and third sets, winning 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(4). Duckworth is ranked 1072 in the world.
Garbine Muguruza saw off Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(0), 6-2 in a rain-disrupted battle of former champions to reach the second round of the French Open on Tuesday.
The Spanish third seed, who lifted the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup in 2016, dropped serve twice in the opening set but easily prevailed in the tiebreak.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov eased to a 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australian John Millman in his first ever main-draw French Open match on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old, who lost in Roland Garros qualifying last year but is now the 24th seed, was erratic at times but always had too much power for his opponent.
He will next take on German world number 70 Maximilian Marterer for a place in the last 32.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been playing unbelievable on this surface,” said Shapovalov.
“For now, every win here is a bonus, but in the future, winning Roland Garros would be a dream come true for me.”
Shapovalov fell a break down in each of the first two sets, but his fearsome groundstrokes helped him fight back both times to take control of the match after a rain delay. (Agencies)