Rafael Nadal converted all five break points and rolled to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in the first round of the French Open on Monday in Paris.
Seeking his 13th title at Roland Garros, the second-seeded Spaniard landed 32 winners and improved to 16-0 in first-round matches in the French capital. His overall record at the clay-court major is a stunning 94-2.
"It is a different Roland Garros. Totally different than we are used to ... but for me this year is as special as every one at Roland Garros," Nadal said of playing without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am going to keep trying my best. I am happy to be in the second round (after) a good start and now is the moment to go back to the hotel, have a good practice tomorrow and try to be ready for the second round."
Gerasimo struck 24 winners and eight aces to go along with 28 unforced errors. He broke Nadal's serve only once to take a 2-0 lead in the third set, but dropped the last six games.
Nadal, 34, is attempting to win his 20th Grand Slam singles title to match Roger Federer's record. His opponent in the second round is American Mackenzie McDonald, who rallied to defeat Canada's Steven Diez 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes.
U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem of Austria opened with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win against Croatia's Marin Cilic. The third-seeded Thiem converted six of his 13 break points and took advantage of 43 unforced errors by Cilic.
"I really love this tournament," Thiem said. "I wanted to prepare well. I didn't want to lose too much tension after my victory in New York and I am really happy how I did it."
Thiem's second-round opponent is qualifier Jack Sock, who defeated fellow American Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. Opelka hammered 16 aces but lost his serve five times.
Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan upset No. 8 seed Gael Monfils of France 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin eliminated No. 14 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-0), and Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka knocked out No. 19 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
American Tommy Paul moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over Australia's James Duckworth.
--Field Level Media