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Rediff.com  » Sports » French Open PIX: Nadal downs Bolelli; Muguruza, Sharapova advance

French Open PIX: Nadal downs Bolelli; Muguruza, Sharapova advance

Last updated on: May 30, 2018 11:42 IST

Images from Day 3 of the French Open in Paris on Tuesday

Nadal downs feisty Bolelli in opener

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during his first round match against Simone Bolelli of Italy. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited show of aggressive groundstroke hitting by lucky loser Simone Bolelli as he launched his campaign for an eleventh crown on the terre battue of Roland Garros with 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(9) victory.

 

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.

Nadal maintained the calm and poise of a French Open champion who entered the tournament with a 79-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros, retrieving seemingly impossible balls and letting rip with his own exquisite passing shots.

He survived four set points against him in the tiebreak, coming back from a 3-6 deficit, before finally triumphing.

"It was a very difficult match. Simone played so aggressive, he had so many chances in the third (set)," Nadal told the centre court crowd.

Muguruza tames Kuznetsova in battle of former champions

Garbine Muguruza

IMAGE: Garbine Murguruza of Spain plays a forehand during the irst round match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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.

She broke early in the second set and this time did not let her guard down against 2009 champion Kuznetsova, who is 43rd in the WTA rankings after returning to the tour only in March following a wrist injury.

The Russian saved a first match point with a passing shot, Muguruza sent a backhand long on the second, but Kuznetsova bowed out after sending a forehand way too long on the third.

Muguruza next faces French wildcard Fiona Ferro.

Sharapova marks Paris comeback with see-saw victory

Maria Sharapova

IMAGE: Maria Sharapova in action during her match against Richel Hogenkamp. Photograph: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

There was the usual pre-toss skipping routine, an abundance of shrieks and the oft-seen mid-match wobble as Maria Sharapova returned to the French Open following a two-year hiatus with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win against Richel Hogenkamp on Tuesday.

The former world number one ended up spending more time than she would have wanted on court Suzanne Lenglen in defeating the Dutch qualifier but the only thing that mattered was that she was into round two.

"I really dug deep but sometimes you need to go through these types of matches where things don't go the way you want," Sharapova said courtside. "Happy the way I came back in the third set."

"I'm so fortunate to be back in this position, I formed so many great memories here."

Sharapova, seeded 28th, missed the 2016 tournament while serving a doping ban and failed in her bid to secure a wildcard entry into last year's event.

After being given a warm welcome by the Roland Garros crowd when she arrived on court, the Russian raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. She wrapped it up in just 24 minutes as she mixed her powerful game with a couple of delicate dropshots.

The five-times Grand Slam champion broke early in the second set too, only for Hogenkamp to level for 3-3.

Another trade of breaks ensued and Hogenkamp broke again in the 10th game to level the match when Sharapova netted a backhand.

Things then got much worse for Sharapova.

She peppered the court with unforced errors, falling 3-0 down in the decider as Hogenkamp bagged six games in a row.

But the double French Open champion's never-say-die attitude resurfaced and she pocketed the remaining six games to set up a second-round meeting with Croatia's Donna Vekic.

Del Potro powers past Mahut after poor start

Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro made light of any injury concerns as he recovered from a poor start to beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the French Open first round on Tuesday.

The big Argentine was feeble in the opening set, winning just one game, but he picked up the pace to claim a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Del Potro, whose career has been plagued by wrist injuries, withdrew from the this month's Rome Masters with a groin injury, sparking fears about his prospects in Paris.

When he lost the first set in 25 minutes it looked ominous for the 29-year-old but there looked nothing wrong with his movement as he powered past the world number 116.

Former US Open champion Del Potro is playing at Roland Garros for only the second time since 2012 and will be a danger in the top half of the draw.

Cilic sees off Australia's Duckworth

Marin Cilic

IMAGE: Marin Cilic in action during his first round match against Australia's James Duckworth. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

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,-6(4). Duckworth is ranked 1072 in the world.

The Croatian would become only the 11th man in the Open era to reach the final of all four Grand Slams if he progresses through to the last two of this year's Coupe des Mousquetaires.

Isner happy to see red after bad memories of green childhood

John Isner

IMAGE: John Isner in action during his match against Noah Rubin. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

As American John Isner is still scarred by the "gross indoor green clay" he had to play on while growing up, anything he achieves on the more regal terracotta clay at Roland Garros seems like a well-earned bonus.

While two fourth round appearances in nine previous visits sums up his best results in Paris, for Isner the standout match remains a first round defeat he suffered in 2011.

That match happened to be against a certain Rafael Nadal and it was the first time the Spaniard, considered as the greatest ever claycourt warrior, was taken to five sets on red dirt.

"That was a great memory for me," Isner told reporters following his 6-3, 7-6(7), 7-6(7) win over compatriot Noah Rubin in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday.

"Going into that match, I hadn't played well that year. And even though I lost, it actually set me up for the rest of the year because I started playing much better after that.

"Beating Nadal on clay is literally one of the toughest things in sports, period, and the stats bear that out," added Isner about the champion who is the overwhelming favourite to win a record-extending 11th title in Paris.

Britain's Edmund 'feeling good' at French Open

Kyle Edmund

IMAGE: Britain's Kyle Edmund in action during his first round match against Australia's Alex de Minaur. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

British number one Kyle Edmund said he was 'feeling good' on the clay courts of Roland Garros, where he cruised past Australia's Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round for the fourth consecutive year.

It was a controlled win for the Britain's top Wimbledon hope against an opponent who failed to hit any winners off the Edmund serve and was harried into too many forced errors.

Edmund’s ball-striking was superior throughout, the 16th seed hitting 28 winners to De Minaur’s 15, but it was the 23-year-old's cool head that impressed.

"I was pleased with how I managed my game today. Did the controllables really well, ... serving well and, you know, when I am on the front foot not laying back on the point," Edmund told reporters.

The South African-born youngster has made big strides in the past five months, defeating Novak Djokovic and David Goffin on his way to the quarter-finals in Madrid this month and breaking into the top 20.

Halep faces playing catch-up

Women's top seed Simona Halep had her first-round match against American Alison Riske postponed on Tuesday because of the late-running schedule on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

It means the Romanian twice runner-up will play her first match on day four of the tournament and would likely face playing two days in succession to catch up.

Rain caused delays earlier in the day and with a men's singles match between 17th seed Tomas Berdych and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy still in the first set at gone 7.30pm local time, Halep's match was pushed back by a day rather than being shifted to another court.

Should she win when she finally gets her campaign under way, Halep would face American wildcard Taylor Townsend in the second round.

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