Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nadal, Serena win Roland Garros openers




Nadal, Serena win Roland Garros openers

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rafael Nadal (serving) defeated Egor Gerasimov, the world No83 from Belarus, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to launch his assault on a 13th French Open title. AFP

Nadal, Serena win Roland Garros openers

Rafael Nadal began his pursuit of a record-tying 20th men’s Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory at the French Open while Serena Williams made a slow but successful start in her latest bid to equal Margaret Court’s all-time mark.

Nadal, 34, needs one more Slam to match Roger Federer’s record but has described the defence of his Roland Garros crown as the “most difficult ever” given the cold and damp conditions of a tournament delayed four months by the coronavirus pandemic.

The second seed defeated Egor Gerasimov, the world No83 from Belarus, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to launch his assault on a 13th French Open title, 15 years after triumphing on his debut.

“I am happy, honestly. I did the things that I had to do. I didn’t expect much more,” said Nadal.

“I’m really happy to be back at Chatrier,” he told a smattering of the 1,000 fans permitted daily at Roland Garros.

“Hopefully it’ll be back to normal next year and I’ll play in front of the beautiful crowd.”

The Spaniard is appearing for the first time in Paris without a clay title to his credit and skipped the recent US hardcourt swing over Covid-19 concerns.

He smacked 32 winners to just 20 unforced errors to down Gerasimov, one of 31 men entered into his first French Open main draw.

“I don’t want to make any mistakes. It’s a different Roland Garros this year and the weather conditions are very challenging, but we are here to try our best,” said Nadal, who faces Mackenzie McDonald in round two.

Williams is chasing an elusive 24th Grand Slam title to draw level with Margaret Court’s all-time haul, but clay is her least successful surface.

An error-prone beginning from the American star left world No102 Kristie Ahn serving for the first set before the three-time Roland Garros champion prevailed 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.

“She played very well in the first set, it wasn’t easy for me and she hit a lot of winners,” said Williams, playing at the French Open for the 18th time.

“The biggest difference was just confidence. I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena.

“So that was it. I just started playing like that. And I love the clay and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.”

Williams, seeded sixth here, has not gone beyond the last 16 in Paris since her defeat to Garbine Muguruza in the 2016 final. Her last major came at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.

Medvedev exits early

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out in the first round for the fourth year running, losing 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-1 to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

The Russian, runner-up at last year’s US Open, became the highest-ranked player to fall so far and has yet to win a match at Roland Garros since his debut in 2017.

Italian journeyman Lorenzo Giustino carved out his own place in the headlines when he outlasted France’s Corentin Moutet 0-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 18-16 in the second longest match in French Open history at six hours and five minutes.

The match, held over from Sunday, fell 28 minutes short of Roland Garros’ record marathon tie between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004.

US Open winner Dominic Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal in Paris the past two years, defeated former Slam champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

“My level was good. I was very happy with the way I played from the beginning to the end basically,” said Thiem.

Having captured his maiden Slam in New York, Thiem is trying to become the only man in the Open era to win his first two majors at successive tournaments.

“I really love this tournament, it’s by far my best Grand Slam tournament so far,” said Thiem, who plays American qualifier Jack Sock in the second round.

“I’m from Austria so I know how it is to play in these cold conditions. I love it when it’s not too fast.”

Eighth seed Gael Monfils, the top Frenchman, lost 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to Alexander Bublik.

Play on Monday was initially delayed by more persistent rain. Petra Kvitova defeated Oceane Dodin 6-3, 7-5 in the only match to start on time under the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Kiki Bertens overhauled 112th-ranked Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 once conditions improved while Elina Svitolina scrapped past Varvara Gracheva 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, edged past Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 but last year’s runner-up Marketa Vondrousova was bundled out 6-1, 6-2 by Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to