PARIS: Playing in his fourth match of the year -- and in only his third tournament -- former world No.1 Roger Federer wasted no time getting back to winning ways, defeating qualifier Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the French Open second round on Monday.
Eighth seed Federer, who won here in 2009, had undergone two knee surgeries last year and was sidelined for most of the abbreviated 2020 season. But he shook off the rust in style against Istomin to extend his head-to-head dominance over Istomin to 8-0.
World No.2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia recorded his first win at Roland Garros on his fifth attempt as he swept aside Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.
Medvedev, 25, entered with a 1-3 record this year on clay. However, he comfortably overcame world No. 37 Bublik to set up a second-round clash against either American Tommy Paul or Australian Christopher O'Connell.
In other first-round matches, 19th seed Jannik Sinner of Italy got the better of Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1, 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4.
Sinner looked to be heading for an early exit in Paris, but he recovered his game late in the fourth set to win five straight games en route to a comeback victory over three hours and 33 minutes.
American John Isner, ranked 34th, defeated compatriot Sam Querrey 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-4, while 16th seed Casper Ruud of Norway was stretched to four sets by Benoit Paire of France before winning 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(4).
Federer took control of the rallies with his serve against Istomin, leaving the Uzbek under pressure and with few opportunities to do damage. He won 80 per cent of the points behind his first serve, and 79 per cent of his second serve points.
The Swiss set the tone early on with a break in the first set and never looked back, finding his range as the match went on. The eighth seed found 48 winners, including eight aces, in the match, with 15 of those coming in the 22-minute opening set.
World No. 5 Sofia Kenin defeated Jelena Ostapenko in three sets to progress to the second round. The 2020 finalist defeated 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The world No. 5 will face American qualifier Hailey Baptiste in the second round.
Sorana Cirstea beat 19th seed Johanna Konta 7-6, 6-2 while 10th seed Belinda Bencic beat Nadia Podoroska 6-0, 6-3.
Birthday girl Iga Swiatek faced some stiff resistance in the second set before the Pole went on to beat best friend Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-0, 7-5 to launch her French Open title defence on Monday.
Celebrating her 20th birthday, Swiatek got a warm hug before the start of the match from Juvan, who is her friend from junior ranks, but the Pole did not return any favours once they got on the opposite sides of the net at Court Philippe-Chatrier.
"It's never easy to play against your best friend," Swiatek told reporters. "You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game. I think I'm doing that pretty well. It's nice to have that skill."
"So I was just trying to treat Kaja as any other girl, as any other opponent, because in sports when we are on court you can't have, like, thoughts that are going to make your game more soft."
"I'm feeling old at 20," Swiatek wrote on the lens of the camera before walking off the court having set a second-round meeting against Sweden's Rebecca Peterson, who ousted American Shelby Rogers with a 6-7(3), 7-6(8), 6-2 win.
Italian prospect Jannik Sinner saved a match point as he laboured to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4 victory against France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round. The 19-year-old Sinner, who reached the quarter-finals on his Roland Garros debut last year, was 5-4 down in the fourth set when Herbert sent a backhand wide to give the world number 19 a lifeline.
Sinner next faces fellow Italian Gianluca Mager on his way to a potential fourth-round clash with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, who ended his run last year.
Later on Sunday, No.11 seed Petra Kvitova played some of her best tennis as she saved a match point in a first-round match against Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen, and won 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-1 to stay afloat.
Had the Czech player lost it would have been the first time in 11 years that she had gone down in the first round. The last time she had lost in the opener was in 2010, when she was an unseeded 20-year-old and lost to Australian qualifier Sophie Ferguson.
American Danielle Collins, who had not played since the Miami Open in March and recently underwent surgery to treat endometriosis, overcame Chinese qualifier Wang Xiyu in two hours and 15 minutes, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Agencies
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