Story so far: History-chasers Serena, Rafa advance, Garbi survives

 - Reem Abulleil

Williams and Nadal begin their quests for historic titles with wins as Muguruza fights back from the brink

Serena Williams, Roland Garros 2020, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Serena Williams commenced her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title with a 7-6(2), 6-0 rout of fellow American Kristie Ahn on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Monday.

The three-time Roland-Garros champion had to fight from a break down in the opening set then breezed through the second to hand Ahn her second opening-round defeat in as many slams against her.

Williams fired 11 aces en route to a second-round clash with fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, who lost to the American legend just two weeks ago in the US Open quarter-finals.

Pironkova stunned the tennis world when she came back from a three and a half year break from the sport only to storm into the US Open last-eight stage in her first tournament back. She stretched Williams to three sets before surrendering in New York.


In Paris on Monday, Pironkova dispatched 2014 semi-finalist Andrea Petkovic, who was playing her first event in nearly 12 months, 6-3, 6-3.

Smooth sailing for Nadal

Rafael Nadal kicked off his assault on a record-equalling 20th major crown with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Egor Gerasimov in just two hours and five minutes.

The Mallorcan 12-time Roland-Garros winner converted all five break points he created and hit 32 winners against just 20 unforced errors to punch his ticket to the second round, where he squares off with American Mackenzie McDonald.

Garbi survives scare

Spanish 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza fought back from 0-3 down in the decider to overcome an inspired Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 after three hours of sheer clay-court battle.

The 11th-seeded Muguruza, one of the top contenders for the title in Paris this fortnight, hit a whopping 64 unforced errors before moving into the second round, where she faces Kristyna Pliskova.

Muguruza maintains her record of having never lost in the opening round in any of her eight appearances at Roland-Garros.

Late arrival, no problem

Two-time quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina lifted the trophy in Strasbourg two days ago and kept her momentum going with a hard-fought 7-6(2), 6-4 result over Russian world No.94 Varvara Gracheva to book a second round with Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua.

Fallen seeds

Last year's Roland-Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova was shocked in the opening round by another standout from the 2019 edition, Iga Swiatek, who produced a crushing 6-1, 6-2 performance to eliminate the left-handed No.15 seed.

The Polish teenager tallied 23 winners in 15 games to wrap up the win in 63 minutes.

Russian No.28 seed and 2009 Roland-Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova succumbed to her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

On the men's side, Italian 14th seed Fabio Fognini lost for a seventh time from his last eight matches, falling 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-0 to Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin.

Fabio Fognini, Roland Garros 2020, first round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Heartbreak for the French

21-year-old Frenchman Corentin Moutet suffered an agonising loss to Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino after six hours and five minutes of play, in what was the second-longest singles match in Roland-Garros history.

The first round, which started on Sunday but was suspended overnight, saw Giustino squeeze through 0-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(3), 2-6, 18-16. It was a Roland-Garros main draw debut to remember for Giustino, who next plays Argentina's Diego Schwartzman.

In an opening round between two of the biggest showmen of the sport, French No.8 seed Gael Monfils was sent packing by Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

"Obviously playing Gael at the French Open, for me it was very emotional and this one is probably the most important win of my career," said the 49th-ranked Bublik.

It was Monfils' first opening round loss at Roland-Garros since 2005.