Tennis: Nadal at old merciless self on new French Open centre court but loser Wozniacki calls opponent 'lucky'

The win improved Rafael Nadal's Roland Garros record to 87-2 and he is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.
The win improved Rafael Nadal's Roland Garros record to 87-2 and he is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - Clay-court master Rafael Nadal quickly adapted to his new surroundings at Roland Garros with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 demolition of German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of tennis' French Open on Monday (May 27).

On a revamped Court Philippe Chatrier, the 11-time champion wasted little time in dispatching Hanfmann after the German had the audacity to say he could do "some damage" in the run-up to the match. Nadal will next meet another qualifier.

Hanfmann failed to seize potential opportunities as Nadal, who usually starts slowly at his favourite hunting ground, played tight throughout and limited his unforced errors to 11.

The win improved the Spaniard's Roland Garros record to 87-2 and he is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.

Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki completed a hat-trick of first-round exits on red clay this season, as she became the third former women's world No. 1 to fall in the first round.

The 13th-seeded Dane suffered a spectacular collapse in a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat by Russia's Veronika Kudermetova on Court Philippe Chatrier, just 24 hours after Angelique Kerber and veteran Venus Williams were sent packing.

Wozniacki, who had spells on top of therankings between 2010 and 2012, has failed to win a match on red clay this year as she was forced to retire with back and calf injuries midway through her opening-round contests in Madrid and Rome.

 
 

Wozniacki, who had reached the Charleston final on green clay before she suffered the injury setbacks, paid for her lack of match practice after a near-perfect start on Monday.

"I think I played really well in the first set. I played aggressive. I played the way I wanted to play. And then I think she got very lucky in the start of the second set and... took advantage of the opportunities she got," she told reporters.

"And then I just lost a little steam in the end and I made some unforced errors that I normally don't do, so that was very frustrating."

The 28-year-old, whose only Grand Slam title is the 2018 Australian Open, has never made it past the quarter-finals in 12 appearances at Roland Garros.

The Dane suffers from arthritis but said her condition had not been bothering her lately. "Lately I've been feeling good with that, so when I feel good, I just do what I normally do and just go through every day and work hard," she explained.

But the calf problem hampered her preparations for the French Open even if she did not feel any pain on Monday.

"Lately it's just been my calf, which has nothing to do with the other thing. And sometimes you're just unlucky as an athlete," she said. "You get hurt, you get injured, and you just have to try to work through that."

Wozniacki, who has won just nine matches in 2019, will now focus on the grass-court season. "It hasn't been a great year for me so far. And I'm just going to try and work hard and try to turn that around," she said.