Sabalenka, Ruud make winning start at French Open


Second seed Aryna Sabalenka launched her bid for a maiden French Open title and second Grand Slam crown of the year with a breezy 6-1 6-2 first-round win over Russian teenager Erika Andreeva that will serve as a warning to her main rivals.

The 26-year-old, who successfully defended her Australian Open title earlier this year, arrived at Roland Garros as a top contender after strong results in the European clay swing and wasted little time to get going on Court Philippe Chatrier.

After breaking in the fourth game when 19-year-old Andreeva hit a double fault, Sabalenka fired up her forehand to quickly build up a 5-1 lead and closed out the opening set when her opponent sent a shot wide.

Sabalenka pounced on world number 100 Andreeva's serve again to grab the lead in the second set before handing the break back while attempting a chip from deep, but last year's semi-finalist promptly surged ahead 4-2 after saving more breakpoints.

Having neutralised the increased threat from Andreeva, she wrapped up the contest on serve in 68 minutes, finishing it off on her third matchpoint with a sublime drop shot at the net to huge cheers from the crowd.

Elsewhere, seventh seed Zheng Qinwen powered past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-1 and into the second round, sending the Frenchwoman into retirement with a heavy defeat at her home Grand Slam, where she has featured for 20 straight years.

The 34-year-old Cornet, holder of the Open era women's record for consecutive major main draw appearances, had previously announced that she would bring the curtain down on her career after the tournament.

Cornet will still compete in the women's doubles and mixed doubles events before she walks away from the sport after almost 20 years as a professional.

In the men's competition, two-time finalist Casper Ruud eased past Brazilian qualifier Felipe Alves in straight sets as he launched a renewed bid for a maiden title in Paris.

Fresh from his win in Geneva last week, the world number seven and three-time Grand Slam finalist looked confident on the Paris clay, serving close to 90 per cent first serves as he sped past the Brazilian 6-3 6-4 6-3 in under two hours.

He will face either Monaco's Valentin Vacherot or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

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