Paris: World number one Novak Djokovic was a comfortable victor in the first round at Roland Garros on Monday.
Djokovic laid down an early marker in his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time, powering past Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz. The 15-time major champion impressed in a 6-4 6-2 6-2 triumph and will face Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen in round two.
“I was very solid. I’m happy with my game,” said the top seed. “It’s a long tournament… But I just want to concentrate on my next match.” Twelve months ago, Djokovic dropped out of the world’s top 20 after a shock quarter-final loss to Marco Cecchinato and even pondered skipping Wimbledon, but he has instead reclaimed his place at the top of the game.
The 22-year-old Hurkacz, who has claimed three wins over top-10 players this season, had no answer to the 2016 French Open winner, as Djokovic sealed a second-round spot without breaking sweat, hitting 27 winners.
Earlier, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki collapsed to a 0-6 6-3 6-3 loss to Russian world number 68 Veronika Kudermetova in the first round. The Danish 13th seed had retired injured from her two previous matches in the lead-up to Roland Garros and fell away badly after a strong first set.
“I think she got very lucky at the start of the second set and took advantage of the opportunities she got,” said Wozniacki. Sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was forced to pull out before her scheduled opener against Sorana Cirstea with a left arm injury, but said she should be fit for Wimbledon, which starts on 1 July.
“(I’ll be out for) two to three weeks, so I’ll do some fitness and everything that I can do to prepare my body for the tennis on the grass,” said the Czech.
Dutch fourth seed Kiki Bertens looked in fine fettle, though, beating home player Pauline Parmentier 6-3 6-4. Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty saw off American Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-3.
In the men’s event, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka progressed with a 6-1 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 6-3 win over Slovakian Jozef Kovalik. Australian Alex De Minaur, seeded 21st, beat the United States’ Bradley Klahn 6-1 6-4 6-4, although Georgian 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev both exited the tournament.
‘Mother, champion, queen, goddess, Serena’
One year after her ‘Black Panther’ catsuit caused controversy, Serena Williams returned to Roland Garros on Monday, dressed in a zebra-striped cape emblazoned with the words ‘mother, champion, queen, the goddess’.
The 37-year-old American wore the Nike-backed black-and-white cape as she arrived on Court Philippe Chatrier for her opening match against Vitalia Diatchenko. The legend of ‘mother, champion, queen, goddess’ was written in French in a nod to her hosts. Once the cape was removed, Williams revealed a black and white zebra-stripe print dress.
Williams fell foul of Roland Garros last year with her one-piece black outfit which she said she needed to wear to boost her circulation. She had suffered blood clots when she gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia. “I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place,” said French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli.