Roger Federer makes winning Grand Slam return

Roger Federer defeated Denis Istomin in straight sets to make a winning return to Grand Slam tennis

Roger Federer believes the 'worst is behind' him

Playing his first Grand Slam match in more than a year, Roger Federer showed little signs of rust as he defeated Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

Federer, who underwent two knee surgeries last year and was sidelined for most of the abbreviated 2020 season, made his return to action at ATP 250 events in Doha and Geneva, where he amassed a 1-2 record.

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But the Swiss was in cruise control against the experienced Uzbeki, who qualified for the main draw. Federer won 19 of the 24 net points and hit 48 winners past Istomin clinch victory in 93 minutes.

‘Love Clay’

World No 2 Daniil Medvedev seemed to have a change of heart as he scored his first win at the French Open on Monday. After beating Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5, the Russian scribbled, ‘Love Clay’ on the camera.

To put it in perspective, Medvedev had lost in the first round at Roland Garros in his first four outings.

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The Russian has a losing 12-20 record on clay and had admitted before the Monte Carlo Masters that there was little about the surface that he liked.

Medvedev came into the clay-court major with a 1-3 record this year on the red dirt, with his sole victory coming over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Madrid Open.

Sinner survives

Jannik Sinner saved a match point as he laboured to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4 victory against France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round.

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The 19-year-old Sinner, who reached the quarter-finals on his Roland Garros debut last year, was 5-4 down in the fourth set when Herbert sent a backhand wide to give the world number 19 a lifeline.

“When I saw the draw I knew it would be tough, also knowing that the crowd is for him but it’s good to have crowds,” said Sinner on court Suzanne Lenglen.

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“Being a match point down and winning… it’s a crazy sport but I’m happy it went my way.”

Ruud awakening

Benoit Paire had been waiting to play in front of a proper crowd for several months, but even the support of his home fans was not enough as he lost in the French Open first round.

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With up to 1,000 fans allowed to watch on a sun-kissed court Simonne Mathieu, Paire fully enjoyed the loud cheers throughout, as he lost 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(4) by Norwegian 15th seed Casper Ruud.

Swiatek opens title defence

Birthday girl Iga Swiatek took on her best friend on tour Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in the first round and secured a 6-0, 7-5 win despite some stiff resistance in the second set.

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Celebrating her 20th birthday, Swiatek got a warm hug before the start of the match from Juvan, who is her friend from junior ranks, but the Pole did not return any favours once they got on the opposite sides of the net.

“It’s never easy to play against your best friend,” Swiatek told reporters.

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“You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game. I think I’m doing that pretty well. It’s nice to have that skill.

Titanic tussle

Bianca Andreescu lost a titanic tussle to Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 6-7 (1), 7-6 (2), 9-7 in three hours and 20 minutes.

The former US Open champion had only ever contested three tour-level matches on clay coming into the tournament as injuries have wreaked havoc with her playing schedule for the past couple of seasons.

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Zidansek, ranked 85 in the world, scored her first career win at Roland Garros, having lost her openers on her two previous visits here.