Wet, Windy First Day at French Open Pushes Players to Win Ugly
Both are top contenders again, as is Simona Halep, the No. 1 women’s seed and 2018 French Open champion, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-0 in the first round on Sunday. Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion, also sent a message by routing former No. 1 Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. Their match was much more compelling on paper than it was on clay as the powerful Wawrinka clubbed winners even in the heavy conditions.
Benoit Paire also returned to Grand Slam competition with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kwon Soon-woo. Paire, a flashy French shotmaker with a hipster’s beard, was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open after testing positive for the coronavirus, isolating in his Long Island hotel room for 10 days before returning to Europe. He tested positive again at an event in Hamburg, Germany, last week but was given permission to play by German health officials who deemed him less of a risk.
He then tested negative in Paris, allowing him to take the court on Sunday.
“I was scared about the test,” Paire said. “Because you know, when you’re negative, positive, negative, positive, you never know. So not easy mentally when you know there is a possibility you don’t play at home.”
The opening match on the Chatrier court, the first at Roland Garros under a closed roof, was between Jannik Sinner and David Goffin.
It was the main-draw French Open debut for Sinner, a 19-year-old Italian with a cherub’s visage and an assassin’s groundstrokes. He coolly defeated the 11th-seeded Goffin 7-5, 6-0, 6-3, several hours before Gauff, another French Open rookie, held firm to defeat Konta, a French Open semifinalist last year.
Remarkably, neither teen’s victory felt much like an upset. Sinner, a former competitive Alpine skier who trains under veteran coach Riccardo Piatti, has long been considered a future star.
Gauff already is a show-court regular after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open this year before turning 16. Along the way, she has beaten four top 20 players: Kiki Bertens, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka and now Konta in the same stadium where she won her junior title in 2018.