Sixth seed Serena Williams battled sluggish conditions to defeat fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-6(2) 6-0 to open her campaign at the French Open on Monday in Paris.
Playing against an opponent she defeated at the same stage at the U.S. Open less than a month ago, Williams found herself trailing twice in the opening set at the Court Philippe Chatrier but rallied each time to force a tiebreaker.
Williams, who has won three of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles at Roland Garros, raised her level in the tiebreaker and did not look back from there, handing the 102nd-ranked Ahn a bagel in the second set.
The 39-year-old had to dig deep to find a way to win points in the cold and heavy conditions and needed five match points to seal the victory and set up a second round meeting against Tsvetana Pironkova, who earlier beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-3.
Thiem keeps rolling after U.S. Open title win
U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem advanced to the second round of the French Open by beating former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
The third-seeded Austrian won his first major tournament at Flushing Meadows two weeks ago and is among the favourites again at Roland Garros after losing the past two finals to Rafael Nadal.
Thiem broke the imposing Croatian’s serve six times in cool conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Cilic led 2-0 in the third set but Thiem reeled off the next five games before Cilic held again.
Thiem will next face American qualifier Jack Sock. He beat Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
Kvitova looks strong early at Roland Garros
Petra Kvitova reached to the second round of the French Open after a 6-3, 7-5 win over Oceane Dodin under the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The two-time Wimbledon champion advanced from the first round for the 10th time in 11 appearances at Roland Garros. The Czech player’s only first-round loss was in 2010. She was a semifinalist in 2012. She is ranked 11th and seeded seventh at Roland Garros.
A forehand hit wide by 118th-ranked Dodin gave Kvitova a break of serve in the second set. The 23-year-old Frenchwoman was playing the 30-year-old Kvitova for the first time.
Elsewhere on Monday:
Last year’s runner-up Marketa Vondrousová lost in the first round, beaten by Iga Swiatek 6-1, 6-2. Vondrousová was the third-lowest ranked player to reach the final last year when she did so at No. 38. Swiatek reached the fourth round at Roland Garros last year.