12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal began his quest for an incredible record extending 13th French Open title with a three-set win over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov but it wasn’t without few problems.
Nadal defeated the world number 83 who was making his main-draw debut in Paris 6-4 6-4 6-2 in two hours five minutes.
Next in line for Nadal is American Mackenzie McDonald, who is ranked 211th.
US Open champion Dominic Thiem is also through to the second round after straight sets (6-4 6-3 6-3) win over Croatia’s Marin Cilic.
Thiem, who won his maiden Grand Slam title in New York this year, has been defeated by Nadal in the past two finals at Roland Garros.
Thiem and Nadal can’t face each other until the semi-finals after they were drawn in the same half of the men’s singles.
34-year-old Nadal is seeded second behind Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic and has said this year’s tournament will provide the “the toughest conditions” yet for him due to the rearrangement.
The 19-time Grand Slam singles champion is aiming to move level with Roger Federer’s 20 record Grand Slam title, but has only played one clay-court event prior to Roland Garros and the cooler conditions are not so favourable for his game.
“I’m not going to make a mistake – the attitude and motivation is always here,” Nadal said.
“It is a different Roland Garros to the one we are used to and the conditions are very challenging. I’m happy to be in the second round – it is a good start.”
Thiem will play American Jack Sock in the next round.
The Austrian third seed said he was glad he managed to make the necessary adjustments from playing on hard courts in the heat of New York a fortnight ago to playing on clay in damp 13C conditions in Paris.
“I’m from Austria so know how it is to play in cold conditions,” he added. “When I was in the juniors I played in 10 degree weather.”
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