Story so far: Anisimova, Sabalenka to clash

Sabalenka and Anisimova got their first-ever RG wins to set up an exciting second round.

Anisimova 2019 first round©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Amanda Anisimova and Aryna Sabalenka claimed their first-ever Roland-Garros match-wins on Tuesday to set up an exciting second-round showdown between two of the tour's most promising youngsters.

The 17-year-old American Anisimova outplayed French hope Harmony Tan 6-3, 6-1 to earn herself a crack at the 11th-seeded Belarusian - a repeat of the Australian Open clash which was sensationally won by the teenager.

The 21-year-old Sabalenka of Belarus booked her spot in the second round with a 7-5, 6-1 triumph over 2016 WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova, while her compatriot Victoria Azarenka made it a double celebration for Belarus with her straight-sets victory over a misfiring Jelena Ostapenko.

Ivo Karlovic, at 40 years young, won the battle of the ‘golden oldies’ with Feliciano Lopez at Roland-Garros, booming down 35 aces on his way to the second round.

Feliciano Lopez et Ivo Karlovic©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

History was made on Court 6 as Karlovic, the first 40-year-old to compete in the men’s singles at a Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors at the 1992 US Open, beat the 37-year-old Spanish left-hander 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-7(7), 7-5.

It was the oldest men’s match-up ever seen at Roland Garros – in terms of their combined age of 77 - in the Open era. 

The world No.1 Naomi Osaka progressed to a mouth-watering second round meeting with Azarenka but only after a real scare against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who served for the match twice before succumbing 0-6, 7-6(4), 6-1. 

The hosts’ No.1 player Caroline Garcia, the 24th seed, also made it through, defeating Germany’s Mona Barthel 6-2, 6-4, while Madison Keys, the 14th seed, allowed Russian Evgeniya Rodina only three games in a one-sided 56-minute contest.

In the men’s draw, fifth seed Alexander Zverev, fresh from his triumph in Geneva at the weekend, made heavy weather of his opening round win over John Millman, eventually repelling a fightback from the Australian to prevail 7-6(4), 6-3, 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Other notable winners included Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov, who allowed Cedrik-Marcel Stebe only six games, and French hope Lucas Pouille, the No.22 seed who saw off Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.