Tennis: Nadal and Djokovic dispatch opponents easily to enter French Open second round

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic returns a ball to Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal during the ATP Madrid Open semifinal match in Madrid, on May 13, 2017.
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic returns a ball to Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal during the ATP Madrid Open semifinal match in Madrid, on May 13, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - Rafael Nadal smoothly negotiated the potential stumbling block presented by Frenchman Benoit Paire on Monday, launching his bid for a 10th French Open trophy with a largely routine 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 win.

The heavy favourite for the tennis title looked in imperious form as he steamed through the first set in under half an hour.

A short while earlier, defending champion Novak Djokovic enjoyed a winning start under new coach Andre Agassi, cruising past Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-3 6-4 6-2 in the first round.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion parted company with his entire coaching team earlier this month before inviting American great Agassi to work with him during the year's second major tournament.

Paire, described prior to their encounter on Court Suzanne Lenglen as a dangerous opponent by Nadal, played with more freedom in a closer second set as the Spaniard lost his edge. Trading baseline rallies, they exchanged breaks to leave the Frenchman leading 4-3.

But Nadal, 30, then pulled clear and, with Paire periodically clutching his stomach after a medical time out, the Spaniard took nine of the last 10 games to close out the match in just under two hours.

World No. 2 Djokovic, without a tour title since January, found little resistance from Granollers, grabbing two breaks early on in the first set as he chased the 77th-ranked player around the court.

It was a similar story early in the second set with the 30-year-old Serb returning everything Granollers tried to throw at him as he went 4-1 up, before a wobble saw him fail to convert eight set points at 5-3.

Djokovic kept his cool to earn the second set and pounced on the Spaniards' accumulating mistakes in the third to seal victory on his first match point.