Nadal, Williams warm up
Spain’s Rafael Nadal serves the ball to Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov during their first-round match at the 2020 French Open Monday.
AFP
Nadal, Williams warm up
(Agence France-Presse) - September 30, 2020 - 12:00am

Rafael Nadal began his pursuit of a record-tying 20th men’s Grand Slam title with a straight-sets victory at the French Open while Serena Williams made a slow but successful start in her latest bid to equal Margaret Court’s all-time mark.

Nadal, 34, needs one more Slam to match Roger Federer’s record but has described the defense of his Roland Garros crown as the “most difficult ever” given the cold and damp conditions of a tournament delayed four months by the coronavirus pandemic.

The second seed defeated Egor Gerasimov, the world No. 83 from Belarus, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, to launch his assault on a 13th French Open title, 15 years after triumphing on his debut.

“I am happy, honestly. I did the things that I had to do. I didn’t expect much more,” said Nadal.

“I’m really happy to be back at Chatrier,” he told a smattering of the 1,000 fans permitted daily at Roland Garros.

“I don’t want to make any mistakes. It’s a different Roland Garros this year and the weather conditions are very challenging, but we are here to try our best,” added Nadal, who faces Mackenzie McDonald in round two.

Williams is chasing an elusive 24th Grand Slam title to draw level with Margaret Court’s all-time haul, but clay is her least successful surface.

An error-prone beginning from the American star left world No. 102 Kristie Ahn serving for the first set before the three-time Roland Garros champion prevailed, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.

“She played very well in the first set,” said Williams.

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out in the first round for the fourth year running, losing, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-1, to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

The Russian, runner-up at last year’s US Open, became the highest-ranked player to fall so far and has yet to win a match at Roland Garros since his debut in 2017.

US Open winner Dominic Thiem, runner-up to Nadal in Paris the past two years, defeated former Slam champion Marin Cilic, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

RAFAEL NADAL
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