Tuesday, June 1, 2021. 11:37 AM
(Update : Tuesday, June 1, 2021. 5:20 PM)
PARIS – Rafael Nadal has started his quest for a record 21st Grand Slam title with a three-round victory at the French Open.
For two times, Nadal came to a point of missing out on the third set against Alexei Popyrin, but he came out and won his first round match on the Philippe Chatrier court 6-3, 6-2, 7- 6 (3).
Nadal has now won 26 consecutive rounds at Roland Garros, a streak dating back to the 2019 edition he won.
He captured the title of this clay court tournament last year, a record 13th trophy in Paris. This victory also allowed him to join Roger Federer with whom he shares the record in men of 20 major championships.
Earlier, another headliner was eliminated from the outset when Russian Andrey Rublev lost in five innings to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
Rublev, the seventh player in the world, fought to the end, closing a two-innings deficit, but ended up surrendering after 3:46 of play, defeating 6-3, 7-6 (6), 4 -6, 3-6, 6-4.
After a successful start to the year, Rublev has failed to make it past the quarter-finals of the four clay-court tournaments he has played since his lost final in Monte Carlo in mid-April.
On Sunday, the Austrian Dominic Thiem, world no.4, was eliminated in five sets by the Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Gaël Monfils for his part pleased the crowd behind him by defeating the Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, in four sets, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4.
After giving up the first set where he accumulated unforced errors (18), the French saved a ball from two sets to zero before winning the tiebreaker.
“I’m dead,” he exclaimed on the court after his victory.
“A big thank you,” he continued, thanking the audience. It does a lot of good. Thanks to you. “
Victory for Djokovic at dusk
Novak Djokovic successfully entered the competition at Roland Garros by quietly eliminating the robust American Tennys Sandgren (66th world) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in less than two hours, in the deafening camera of the night session .
“I am honored to have played the first men’s game in a night session in the history of Roland-Garros. It was very strange to play in front of these empty stands and in this really very intense light. I hope to have a crowd for my next match, ”commented the world No. 1, who is aiming for a 19th Grand Slam title to return to the record of his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (20).
This next match will be Thursday against the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas (92nd).
Sandgren was turned off by the Serbian, visibly well prepared after his victory in Belgrade last Saturday.
“I’m very happy with the way I played tonight,” admitted Djokovic who, unlike most of the Parisian title contenders, played in tournament last week.
In recent months, “the tournaments took place in sanitary bubbles. But last week (in Belgrade), for the first time, we had the opportunity to play free, at our own risk. I felt very good. I did not lose too much energy, on the contrary I stored it up, ”he warned.