Paris | Norrie and Evans through as are Djokovic and Nadal

Success for the two Brits in the men’s draw on the second day of the French Open which was dominated by the first appearances of rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal who have dominated Roland Garros for the past decade.

I have to be patient with the clay. It feels really good to win today. It would be the first time I've made the second week of a Slam and I'd like to tick that box Cameron Norrie

Britain’s No.1 Cameron Norrie has set a goal of reaching the second week of the clay grand slam having never got past the third round at a major and, as the 10th seed, he has a chance of achieving that aim having come through a gruelling and hard-hitting two-hour 17-minute battle with the French wildcard Manuel Guinnard, 7-5 6-2 6-0.

The 26-year-old, who won the Lyon title on Saturday, is hoping that he has now set in motion what could be his best run at a major.

“I have to be patient with the clay. It feels really good to win today. It would be the first time I’ve made the second week of a Slam and I’d like to tick that box.”

And patience was certainly required in the early stages of the match for, despite his ranking of 158, Guinnard proved to be a tough nut to crack in the first set with both players testing each other with booming ground strokes.

In the fourth game Norrie survived 11 deuces before holding on to his serve and it wasn’t until the 11th game that the Brit was able to make the breakthrough and go on and pocket the set after some 70-minutes.

The break point came when a tiring Guinnard hit a double fault and having gone down a set, his resistance evaporated

“The first set was a battle and I had to hang in there,” said Norrie. “But I was able to hold my intensity and my level.

“In the third set he dropped slightly, I went up a little bit more and was able to free up my forehand.”


Daniel Evans breaks his duck at the French Open

Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Britain’s No.2 Dan Evans broke his duck when he defeated Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo to win his first match at Roland Garros at his fifth attempt.

In addition, his 7-6(3) 6-4 6-4 victory provided him with his best present on his 32nd birthday, clinching the victory with one of his trademark backhands down the line, and immediately went into a celebratory dance on breaking his losing streak on the Paris clay.

Evans had jumped into a 4-0 lead in the opening set tiebreak which he went on to secure comfortably.

In the second set he claimed two early breaks and despite all Cerundolo’s attempts, held firm to clinch a place in the second round.

There Evans will play Sweden’s Mikael Ymer who beat Australia’s James Duckworth 6-2 6-4 6-2 while Norrie takes on another Aussie, Jason Kubler, a qualifier who took out American Denis Kudla 7-6(5) 7-6(2) 7-6(3) on Sunday.


Novak Djokovic back in grand slam action

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As regards both the main protagonists at this year’s event, who are scheduled to meet in the quarter finals, their respective opening matches were as one-sides as could be.

The reigning champion Novak Djokovic romped past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 while the 13-time French Open champion, Rafa Nadal, eased past Australia’s Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-2 6-2.

For the Serbian world No.1, who opened the night session, it was his first match at a major since losing the US Open last year having failed to persuade the Australian authorities to allow him to defend his Australian Open title because he refused to be vaccinated against Covid resulting in him being deported form Melbourne.

“I’m happy to be back. Roland Garros is one of the biggest tournaments in the world, and the memories from last year still are fresh in my head, in my mind,” said Djokovic.

Djokovic, who turned 35 on Sunday, converted eight of 18 break points against Nishioka under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier on the rain-interrupted day.

“Have to be pleased with the start,” Djokovic added. “Beginning of the match, until I really got used to and adapted to his game, it was difficult to go through him. He’s very quick, one of the quickest players on the tour.

“The conditions quite slow. The ball was not bouncing, and it was just difficult to penetrate him. So the first set was very close, but I managed to find the right serves at the right time. That helped. Then I cruised through the second and third really when I started going through the ball a bit more.

“I have been feeling very well on clay in the last three, four weeks, of course,” Djokovic continued. “Excited to bring out intensity on the court and compete with the guys.”

His next opponent could be tricky should Alex Molcan come through against Argentina’s Federico Coria for the Slovak is now being coached by Marian Vajda, his former long-time coach!


Rafael Nadal acknowledges his loyal fans

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Nadal showed no signs of the foot injury as he cruised into the second round, pocketing his 106th win at Roland Garros which by all accounts, is the most in the history of any of the majors.

“It is a good start, of course,” said Nadal. “I played good for a while, then things that I could do better — and I need to do better. But it is a positive start, and that’s given me a chance to have one more day of practice tomorrow and then another chance after tomorrow.

The Spaniard, who has downplayed concerns over the recurrence of a foot injury that plagued him in Rome, meets Corentin Moutet in round two after the French wildcard defeated 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3.

“Obviously it’s a great disappointment to lose in a Grand Slam, but it’s the reality of my life now,” Wawrinka said following his loss “I knew before the match that I needed to work a lot physically, to work my tennis. It’s not I’m playing badly or I’m not good, but I’m not yet feeling good for matches like that.

“This is the mirror of where I am now. You have to go through times like this with bad matches, with bad first rounds in a Grand Slam, because I need to play a few matches to renew the feelings you look for in a match.”

In other action Americans had a mixed day with Taylor Fritz winning in five but Reilly Opelka lost in straights to Filip Krajinovic 7-6(5) 6-2 6-3 while Georgian Nikolaz Basilashvili came from two sets down to deny Maxime Cressy 3-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-4 6-4.

Ten matches were interrupted due to rain and will resume on Tuesday which will see Stafanos Tsitsipas open his campaign against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetter.

“Lorenzo is a very good player on this surface,” said Tsitsipas. “I have played him before. I think he’s someone that can bring out on the court some good potential and has been, has shown in the past that he’s capable of playing good tennis.

“I’m obviously very happy to be playing these courts again. I know this first-round match is going to really bring the best out of me, at least I will try. It’s going to be the battle of two one-handed backhand players, and I think a pretty interesting match for most spectators to watch on this first round.”



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