Gael Monfils back to winning ways at home Slam

Gael Monfils returned to winning ways at his home Slam as he rallied to victory in the first round of French Open

Gael Monfils back to winning ways

Gael Monfils got back to winning ways at his home Slam as he outlasted clay specialist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of French Open on Tuesday.

This was the 34-year-old’s first win at a Grand Slam since the 2020 Australian Open and only his second win of the season.

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Meanwhile, Ramos-Vinolas had 18 wins to his name, 17 of which had come on clay.

The Frenchman was crestfallen after his first round exit at the Australian Open, saying he had zero confidence. “I would like to get out of this nightmare, but I can’t,” he had said.

Tuesday’s win will come as a welcome boost for Monfils, who has been doing well on the personal front as well. Before the clay season, he was engaged to fellow tennis player Elina Svitolina.

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The Ukranian had also secured first-round win earlier in the day.

Svitolina was tested in the second set but held on for a 6-2, 7-5 victory over French wildcard Oceane Babel.

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A three-time quarter-finalist in Paris, Svitolina rallied back from a break down in the second set against the inspired 17-year-old lefty before setting up a last-64 clash with American Ann Li.

Andrey Rublev knocked out

The in-form Andrey Rublev was knocked out in the first round as he lost a five-set thriller to Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rublev, who beat Rafael Nadal en route to the Monte Carlo Masters final earlier this season, fought back from two sets down before succumbing 6-3, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 in three hours and 46 minutes.

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The 23-year-old, who had reached the quarter-finals in each of his previous three Grand Slam tournaments, was the third-highest seeded player in his half of the draw, behind Novak Djokovic and Nadal.

Big-hitting German Struff will face Argentinian Facundo Bagnis in the second round.

Ash Barty through

Ash Barty faced some tough moments on her return to Parisian clay but emerged a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 winner over American lefty Bernarda Pera.

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The World No 1 was playing her first match at Roland Garros since winning the tournament in 2019.

The crafty Australian required treatment to her back after she dropped the second set but grabbed a crucial service break in the decider to set up a showdown with Magda Linette or Chloe Paquet.

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“It’s so special to back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty told Fabrice Santoro in her on-court interview.