French Open: Alexander Zverev, Elina Svitolina off to great start as Venus Williams falters

There were plenty of impressive results from the big guns on the opening day of the French Open. Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and Elina Svitolina were among those who eased into the second round. Venus Williams, meanwhile, failed to progress to the second round in Paris for the first time since 2001.

Grigor Dimitrov, who only found out about his opponent less than 30 minutes before taking to court, had no problems advancing.

The fourth-seeded Bulgarian was billed to play Viktor Troicki, but instead faced Mohamed Safwat of Egypt because Troicki pulled out due to a back pain. Dimitrov however, put his confusion aside to prevail 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(1).

“I just needed, like, five, ten minutes to disconnect from what I had in mind to play and what I wanted to do and kind of look at the few videos of the way he was playing,” Dimitrov said.

“After that, I just had to go out and do the best that I can. I think it was a good start.”

Safwat, who became the first Egyptian man to compete at a Grand Slam since Tamer El Sawy at the 1996 US Open, was cheered as he exited the court.

Second seed and major contender for the title, Alexander Zverev didn’t break a sweat as he registered a comfortable 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win over Ricardas Berankis of Luthania to ease into the second round, while Japanese Kei Nishikori also made progress with a 7-6(0), 6-4, 6-3 victory over French wild card, Maxime Janvier.

In the women’s draw, Italian Open champion, Elina Svitolina rallied back from a 5-1 deficit in the first set to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-3, while US Open champion Sloane Stephens made light work of Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands with a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

It was Stephens’ first win at a Grand Slam tournament since claiming her first major title at Flushing Meadows last September.

Meanwhile, seven-time Grand Slam champion, Venus Williams bowed out 6-4 7-5 to Qiang Wang of China. The loss marked the first time the 2002 runner-up has lost her opening match here since 2001, and the only time in her career she has lost consecutive Grand Slam opening round matches.

Venus Williams loses in the first round of the French Open for the first time in 17 years.

“There really are no perfect days in tennis, so, at this point I have just got to look forward,” Williams said.” “I just want to be my best, that is all. Nobody plans on this.”

The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that starts on a Sunday, making it a 15-day event.

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