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Nadal vows to fight through difficult conditions at Roland Garros

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Rafael Nadal shows his class yesterday

Rafael Nadal shows his class yesterday

AP

Rafael Nadal shows his class yesterday

Rafael Nadal began his quest for French Open title number 13 with a straight-sets victory over Egor Gerasimov.

The Spaniard, who extended his record on the Paris clay to 94-2, will draw level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slams if he triumphs at Roland Garros.

World number 83 Gerasimov, from Belarus, was not expected to cause Nadal too many problems, and so it proved.

Despite a booming serve from the 6ft 5in powerhouse which held up to some early scrutiny, Nadal wrapped up a routine 6-4 6-4 6-2 win in a shade over two hours.

The tournament, moved to the autumn due to coronavirus, has a completely different feel to it, even for the most seasoned of campaigners.

Nadal said: "It's a different Roland Garros. Of course we play in the same place. But the conditions are completely different than any other Roland Garros that we played.

"But the only thing I can do is just stay positive, do my job, try my best every single day.

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"Even if the conditions are not the ideal ones, I will fight for my goals every single moment."

Twice runner-up Dominic Thiem avoided opened his campaign with a convincing win over Marin Cilic.

It proved to be an unhappy 32nd birthday for Cilic, who took the match to Thiem but paid the price for too many unforced errors in a 6-4 6-3 6-3 defeat.

Cameron Norrie made it a clean sweep of first-round defeats for Britain in the men's singles, losing to Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan who triumphed, 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 winner. Norrie joined Andy Murray, Dan Evans and Broady through the exit door.

Serena Williams admitted she was struggling with a lack of confidence in the opening set of her first-round match.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion was taking on Kristie Ahn in a rematch of their US Open clash and, as with that encounter, Williams edged a tight opening set before easing through the second in a 7-6 (2) 6-0 victory.

She made 28 unforced errors in the first set and had to break Ahn when she served for it before stepping up in the tie-break.

"The biggest difference was just confidence," she said. "I just need to play with more confidence, like I'm Serena.

"So that was it. I just started playing like that. And I love the clay and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding."


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