Claycourt master Rafael Nadal started his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title with a straightforward 6-4 6-4 6-2 first-round win against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov on Monday.
On the revamped court Philippe Chatrier, whose roof stayed open throughout, Nadal converted all of his five break points to set up a meeting with American Mackenzie McDonald.
The second seed, who had complained about the new balls being too heavy, did not appear too bothered in front of some 200 fans, wrapping up the match with a service winner.
Nadal broke in the fifth game as he bagged the opening set in solid fashion, and he stole his opponent’s serve again in the third game of the second. With a mountain to climb after falling two sets behind and as blue skies ate away the dark clouds, Gerasimov broke for 2-0 in the third set.
Nadal quickly regained control, however, and leveled for 2-2, with Gerasimov twisting his ankle on the last point of the fourth game. The physiotherapist taped the Belarusian’s ankle and play resumed after a short interruption with Nadal breaking again for 3-2.