French Open: Federer, Halep, Nishikori Advance

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2009 French Open champion Roger Federer began his bid for his 18th Grand Slam trophy with a smooth 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Colombian veteran Alejandro Falla in Paris on Sunday. Amongst the other top contenders in the men’s section, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori and eighth-seeded Stan Wawrinka both moved into the second round.

In the women’s section, last year’s runner-up Simona Halep ground out a 7-5, 6-4 win over Russian Evgeniya Rodina. Also making it through to the next round were former champion Ana Ivanovic and the girl who stunned Serena Williams last year, Garbine Muguruza.

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Roger Federer in action at the 2015 French Open

Roger Federer encounters an invader

Second seed Roger Federer faced an opponent who had caused him much trouble at the 2010 Wimbledon opening round where Falla stretched the Swiss ace to five sets. There was no such repeat on Day 1 of the 2015 French Open as Roger glided effortlessly on the terre battue to secure an easy 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Roger’s only cause of concern came after the match when a teenager managed to evade security and get access to the Swiss on the court for a selfie! Needless to say, Federer did not mince his words and criticised the security heavily at Roland Garros where such occurrences are becoming a regular feature.

“Well, I’m not happy about it. Obviously not one second I’m happy about it. We need to make sure that it’s safe out there and people don’t just wander on the court like a free pass,” Federer said.

Wawrinka finds his footing on Paris clay

Stan Wawrinka, whose bright start to the season had lost its sheen with mounting losses, found his footing once again on the Parisian red clay. The Swiss who was bundled out in the opening round last year, hit a whopping 42 winners and secured a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over Marsel Ilhan of Turkey.

Solid display by Kei Nishikori

Japanese Kei Nishikori erased memories of last year’s opening round defeat with a solid performance on Court Suzanne Lenglen. The fifth seed whom many have anointed as the second favourite for the crown, emerged a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 winner over home hope Paul-Henri Mathieu.

2014 runner-up Simona Halep aims to go one better

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Simona Halep after her win at the 2015 French Open

Third-seeded Simona Halep was the one who started off the proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday. The Romanian who has announced herself as one of the biggest contenders for the crown, looked focused and unperturbed even as her opponent Rodina put up a late fightback. After her 7-5, 6-4 triumph, Halep admitted to having enjoyed a lot on the court and wanted to continue the same approach for the rest of the tournament.

“I was enjoying a lot (today). I tried just to be focused for what I have to do on court to play my game. Many people came, and it was really nice, the atmosphere. It was a great day for me. I just want to enjoy it,” Halep said.

Ana Ivanovic fights back

2008 champion Ana Ivanovic whose season has not managed to reach the heights of 2014, faced a tricky opponent Yaroslava Shvedova. The seventh seed lost the first set but managed to bounce back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Other big names who won on French Open Day 1:

In men’s singles, former Australian Open runner-up and local hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reigned supreme 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Christian Lindell of Sweden. Also advancing to the next round was 19th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who was a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 winner over German Florian Mayer.

Last year’s semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis who is struggling this year, got a much-needed win. The Latvian emerged victorious over Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3). However, 25th seed Ivo Karlovic was not so lucky. The big-serving 6’11’’ Croat was dwarfed by Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4.

In women’s draw, Garbine Muguruza who had inflicted the most lopsided Slam defeat to Serena Williams in 2014, made her way through to the second round. The talented Spaniard won 6-2, 7-5 over Croatian Petra Martic.

Also winning was the ninth-seeded left-hander Ekaterina Makarova. The Russian scored a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over young American Louisa Chirico. In a mouthwatering contest, 13th seed Lucie Safarova triumphed 7-6, 7-6 over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Notable upset:

Fast-rising Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia whom Andy Murray had once singled out as a future world no. 1, went down 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 to fellow rising star Donna Vekic of Croatia.

Stars to grace on Day 2:

Maria Sharapova begins her title defense on Monday. Along with her, other stars to watch on Day 2 are Andy Murray, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka.




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