Paula Badosa, the No 3 seed, had an easy passage opening her French Open account on Tuesday, while Aryna Sabalenka, seeded 7th, and former champion Simona Halep needed 3 sets to advance at Roland Garros.
Yeah, I’m really happy, I wasn’t expecting this result. I know she’s a very good player on clay, so I was expecting a very physical match. But I’m very happy, I was so nervous to come back here. I think one of the keys this year and my career will be how I manage all of these kind of situations and all these kind of nerves. "It’s a very special tournament for me, I really want to do well here. Paula Badosa
Also safely through to round 2 are Karolina Pliskova, Danielle Collins, Jessica Pegula, Jelena Ostapenko, Elena Rybakina and Daria Kasatkina from among the Top 20 seeds on a day in which all the seeds in action prevailed.
Spain’s Badosa avoided any sniff of joining defending champion Barbora Krejcikova and Japan’s 4-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka on the sidelines with a comprehensive 6-2 6-0 win over France’s Fiona Ferro.
While the scoreline was deceptive in the early exchanges, Badosa quickly opened up a 4-1 lead in what proved to be a near flawless performance.
Both found angles and displayed clay-court prowess, but the Spaniard claimed the vital points, using forays to the net to her advantage and racing out to a 5-2 lead.
Now really in the groove, Badosa skipped around a short ball to flick an inside forehand winner before knifing a cross-court backhand, and then closing out the set in just 36 minutes.
The second was swifter as Badosa underlined her dominance, erasing any chance of a comeback by taking 18 points in a row and closing out the match in just 54 minutes to set up a 2nd-round duel against Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, a 7-5 7-6(4) winner over qualifier Oksana Selekhmeteva.
“Yeah, I’m really happy, I wasn’t expecting this result,” Badosa said. “I know she’s a very good player on clay, so I was expecting a very physical match.
“But I’m very happy, I was so nervous to come back here. I think one of the keys this year and my career will be how I manage all of these kind of situations and all these kind of nerves.
“It’s a very special tournament for me, I really want to do well here.”
Sabalenka, the No 7 seed, outlasted French hope Chloe Paquet, 2-6 6-3 6-4, also avoiding becoming the 5th Top 10 seed to depart in the opening round.
It was Paquet’s first career match against a Top 10 opponent, and the World No 101 took advantage of 13 unforced errors by Sabalenka as she grabbed the first set on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Sabalenka’s powerful shots improved down the stretch, though, and despite being down an early break in each of the next 2 sets, the former World No 2 prevailed in spite of the 50 unforced errors that outpaced her 42 winners.
Next up for Sabalenka will be American Madison Brengle, who easily dispatched lucky loser Mihaela Buzarnescu from Romania, 6-1 6-2.
Halep, the champion here in 2018, survived a stern test on Court Simonne-Mathieu from another lucky loser, Nastasja Schunk from Germany, in her opener, 6-4 1-6 6-1.
Schunk surely thought her dream of a Roland-Garros main draw debut was dashed after she fell in the final round of qualifying to American Hailey Baptiste, but the luckless Ana Konjuh’s withdrawal due to a broken leg opened an unlikely door of opportunity.
Pushed by the talented 18-year-old, Halep, who is also a two-time runner-up in Paris, squeezed past the German in an hour 48 minutes to move past the first round at Roland Garros for the 8th straight time.
The No 19 seed played her 42nd career main-draw match at the French Open, more than any other player in the draw, while on the other side of the net Schunk was playing in her first Grand Slam main draw.
The German reached the Junior Wimbledon final in 2021 and has risen from 675 to her current career-high placement of 165 over the past 12 months.
Bolstered by a powerful lefty forehand, Schunk initially led 4-2, but Halep tightened up her game and drew errors from the German, sweeping 4 games in a row to take the one-set lead.
Schunk, though, grabbed another early lead in the second, and never let that one go.
“She was playing super well in the second set,” said Halep. “She was hitting the ball strong, and I didn’t have a response.
“In the end I stayed focused and stayed strong, and I’m really happy I finished this match. It’s always tough the first round.”
Halep gritted through 2 lengthy games to open the decider and, after coming out on top in those rallies, she took charge, finishing the match with 5 aces and converting 5 of her 10 break points overall, while Schunk had 13 chances to break but only converted on 4.
“Now I have a French coach, probably I will learn some French in the future and I can speak French here,” Halep said on court. “In the third set, I restarted everything. I just fought for every ball.
“I restarted in my mind. I did what I had to do, and I felt more confident, I felt better, so I found the rhythm.
“I’m happy with the way I finished the match.
Next, Halep takes on another teenager, World No 74 Zheng Qinwen of China, who defeated Maryna Zanevska from Belgium, 6-3 6-1.
Meanwhile, Pliskova, seeded 8th, teetered on the brink of joining the seed exodus after losing the opening set to French wild-card Tessah Andrianjafitrimo and then going a break down before recovering to take the 2nd and 3rd sets to come through, 2-6 6-3 6-1.
Pliskova has struggled to find her form since fracturing her wrist during the off-season, and the former World No 1 only returned to action in March, coming into Paris with a 5-7 record, but a semi-final run in Strasbourg last week was encouraging.
Andrianjafitrimo, 23, is currently ranked at a career high of 141, and was bidding to join a succession of low-ranked French players who had pulled off first-round upsets the previous day, with Diane Parry lead the way by upsetting 2nd seeded Krejcikova in sets, and wild-cards Elsa Jacquemot and Leolia Jeanjean following her into the 2nd-round.
Pliskova will next face Jeanjean as she seeks to return to the 3rd round for the first time since 2019.
Andrianjafitrimo kept Pliskova off-balance by mixing up biting slice with heavy topspin but, despite Pliskova’s 22 unforced errors in the opening set, the Czech started to shift momentum towards its close.
Pliskova’s second serve was a vulnerability throughout the match, winning only 8 points behind it but, in the next 2 sets, she solved that issue by simply maintaining a 74% first serve percentage.
The 2017 semi-finalist saved all 5 break points she faced in the decider, and converted her first match point as Andrianjafitrimo sent a forehand long.
American 9th seed Danielle Collins recovered from 2 breaks of serve in the second set to beat Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova, 6-0 6-4, while Latvia’s 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko, seeded 13, beat Lucia Bronzetti of Italy, 6-1 6-4.
Ostapenko is one of 3 former champions in the top 16th of the draw, along with Iga Swiatek and Halep, and she delivered a worthy performance to kick off her campaign.
The Latvian will next face home hope Alizé Cornet, who opened play on Court Philippe-Chatrier with a 6-2 6-0 defeat of Misaki Doi in just 58 minutes.
“So it needs some time to get rid of those [prior injury] thoughts, because I felt, like, in the practice, I was playing really well,” Ostapenko said. “I was playing many points against good girls, and I was winning most of them.
“Most of them I win, really — not easy, but quite easy, because I’m playing really well.
“Then sometimes I go on the court to play a match and I’m a completely different person, completely different player. Then I’m like, What’s happening with me on the matches?
“So I just try to bring all that from practice to the matches, because I think tennis is 70% mental game.”
11th seed Pegula had to fight until the very end after leading China’s Wang Qiang, 6-2, 5-1, when the American’s path grew complicated and she needed 10 match points to seal a 6-2 6-4 win to advance.
“I felt like she totally changed her game from like 6-1, 5-1 and maybe I played a little bit of a loose game at 5-1 serving for it,” Pegula said. “On the clay I feel like you have so much more time and you don’t get a lot of free points, so if someone starts playing well, it can get really tricky.
“She just started stepping in and started ripping … We had some really great match points and even to finish.”
Pegula reached the 3rd round last year and she will have to defeat Anhelina Kalinina for the 3rd time this year to do so again, after the Ukrainian advanced when American qualifier Baptiste retired at 2-5 down.
“I think she can be especially tricky on clay, I don’t think we have played on clay yet, so that will be interesting,” Pegula said. “She’s going to be really tough, but I think if I can get through it that will give me a lot of confidence moving forward.
“I think she’s definitely a little bit of a floater at this tournament, so we’ll just see how it goes.”
In other late first-round matches, 16th-seeded Elena Rybakina from Kazakstan overcame Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, 6-4 5-7 6-2; No 20 seed Daria Kasatkina breezed past lucky loser Rebecca Sramkova from Slovakia, 6-2 6-0; American 22nd seed Madison Keys outlasted Anna Kalinskaya, 6-3 3-6 6-4; and No 24 seed Tamara Zidansek, a Roland Garros semi-finalist last year, dispatched another American, Claire Liu, 6-2 6-2.