Clinical performance from Stosur
Gusty winds and half-empty stands gave no sense of the usual Parisian glamour as last year's French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur began with an easy win on Sunday and Lleyton Hewitt pulled out injured.
Stosur shook off the effects of a virus to beat Czech Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-3 on a sun-bathed, yet windswept court Philippe Chatrier.
"The conditions weren't always so easy with some gusts of wind and whatever else, but, yeah, overall, very happy," said Stosur, who noticed with a smile that there "weren't quite as many people this time".
The claycourt French Open is the only Grand Slam event to start on a Sunday rather than the traditional Monday and the feeling is quite bizarre, according to Stosur, who lost to Italian Francesca Schiavone in last year's final.
"With all the others not doing it, it definitely is a bit of, not a shock, but it's just weird knowing that, okay, my tournament starts on Sunday and then I think you get two days off now," she said.
"So it's just a bit of a different feel, and I guess there's still a lot more people here practising today than playing matches," she added.
Image: Samantha Stosur returns during her French Open match against Iveta Benesova
Top seeds are scheduled to play on Monday
None of the top six seeds in the men's draw were scheduled to play on Sunday, with Stosur the highest seeded player in action in the women's draw.
"We try to protect players who went far in the tournaments leading up to Roland Garros," French federation's competitions director Christophe Fagniez said.
"And this may affect some top names even if they were not playing. For instance, Rafael Nadal v John Isner would have been great to kick off the tournament, but Isner was in action in Duesseldorf until late in the week.
"In the women's draw, Wozniacki and Schiavone were playing in Brussels."
Image: Rafa Nadal laughs during a practice session in Paris
The crowd grew bigger on court Philippe Chatrier, however, when local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sparked off his campaign but the fireworks did not last long as the 17th seed needed less than two hours to dismiss Czech Jan Hajek 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Serbian Jelena Jankovic, a three-times semi-finalist in Paris, was also untroubled on court Suzanne Lenglen as she breezed past Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko 6-3, 6-1.
Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, experienced few problems in a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
Image: Jelena Jankovic returns during her French Open match against Alona Bondarenko
Cilic falls to Ramirez Hidalgo
This year's French Open has been hit hard by injuries and Hewitt, the Australian former world number one, added to the list of absentees when he pulled out because of a left ankle problem.
American Andy Roddick and former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero withdrew on the eve of the year's second Grand Slam, joining the likes of Serena and Venus Williams and Dinara Safina in missing out.
Croatian Marin Cilic would certainly get the feeling his tournament was finished before it had properly started as the 19th seed was sent packing with a 7-6, 6-,4 6-4 defeat by Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.
Image: Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo reacts after winning his French Open match against Marin Cilic
Ferrer dazzles Nieminen
There was no hint of an upset on as seventh seed David Ferrer of Spain thrashed Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to advance.
French women players wore a black ribbon in memory of Virginie Razzano's coach and fiance Stephane Vidal, who died of a brain tumour this month.
"It's really moving for all of us, and I'm a good friend of Virginie's. I play with her, I play doubles with her. We wanted to do something," Alize Cornet, who booked her place in the second round, told reporters.
Image: David Ferrer in action against Jarkko Nieminen