Rafael Nadal resisted a spirited show of aggressive ground stroke hitting by lucky loser Simone Bolelli as he launched his campaign for an eleventh crown at the French Open with a straight sets victory in Paris.
Resuming the match 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 first round encounter.
“It was difficult today to play so aggressive, being in the first round and against a player who really came on court and decided to play that strong,” Nadal said.
American Serena Williams made a successful return to Grand Slam tennis with a straight sets win over Kristyna Pliskova.
Krystina Pliskova, who shared the Wimbledon winners’ stage with Serena back in 2010 — the Czech was junior champion as Serena won the real thing that year, played her part across the net on centre court, but there was only one star.
Dressed in skintight, all-in-one black bodysuit, broken up by a vivid scarlet belt, Serena captivated the French crowd from the start of the contest to its conclusion.
The last time she had appeared in a Grand Slam tournament was at the Australian Open in 2017, when she won it while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw there was a win for third seed Marin Cilic and fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, however 14th seed Jack Sock was beaten.
In the women’s draw there were no major upsets with Roland Garros enjoying the shrieks of Maria Sharapova as she returned to the French Open following a two-year hiatus with a three set win over Richel Hogenkamp.