PARIS • Birthday girl Iga Swiatek faced some stiff resistance in the second set yesterday, before the Pole went on to beat best friend Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-0, 7-5 to launch her French Open title defence.
Celebrating her 20th birthday, Swiatek got a warm hug before the start of the match from Juvan, who came up with her through the junior ranks, but the favourite at Roland Garros did not return any favours once they got on the opposite sides of the net at Court Philippe-Chatrier.
"It's never easy to play against your best friend," she said. "So I was just trying to treat Kaja as any other girl, as any other opponent, because in sports when we are on court, you can't have, like, thoughts that are going to make your game more soft."
Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros with a consummate 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Uzbek qualifier Denis Istomin.
The 39-year-old Swiss, the champion in Paris in 2009, was playing the event for only the second time since 2015. It was his eighth win in eight meetings with Istomin.
Federer, who skipped the 2020 edition, was playing just his fourth match of the year and the first at a Slam since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals last year.
He said: "It's a great pleasure to return. It was important to have some rehabilitation and lots of training."
There was an upset as 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu was dumped out in the first round following a 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (2-7), 7-9 loss to Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek. The Canadian's general lack of fitness - this was just her fifth WTA Tour event after 15 months out due to injury - showed as the world No. 7 could not pull the win out of the bag.
In the men's draw, world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev advanced to the second round for the first time in five attempts after beating Kazakh Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.
The Russian, whose 10 ATP titles have all come on hard courts, has won just 12 matches on clay.
He is still not a fan despite earning his maiden win in Paris but feels he has the ability to do better, saying: "After hitting five balls here... I felt that I could play here like I do on hard courts. I'm a cow on ice moving on clay. We have that expression in Russia."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Day 3: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 4.50pm
SELECTED 1ST RD RESULTS
Daniil Medvedev (Rus) bt Alexander Bublik (Kaz) 6-3 6-3 7-5, Jannik Sinner (Ita) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) 6-1 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4, Roger Federer (Sui) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Tamara Zidansek (Slo) bt Bianca Andreescu (Can) 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-2) 9-7, Polona Hercog (Slo) bt Kiki Bertens (Ned) 6-1 3-6 6-4.