French Open: Serena, Nadal, Thiem Cruise into Next Round

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Serena William is having easy run at the ongoing 2019 French Open at Roland Garros

Serena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.

Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in Paris.

Once she came through a 74-minute opener, Williams began to play with more belief and clarity as she swept Ahn aside in a 27-minute second set.

Williams will play Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

Pironkova, 33, was handed a wildcard by Roland Garros organisers after a memorable run to the US Open quarter-finals – where she lost to Williams- in her first tournament since 2017 after giving birth.

Pironkova set up the rematch with a 6-3 6-3 win over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.

In the men’s singles, Spain’s 12-time champion Rafael Nadal encountered few problems as he started the French Open with a three-set win over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.

Nadal, 34, wrapped up a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory in two hours five minutes against the world number 83, who was making his main-draw debut in Paris.

American Mackenzie McDonald, ranked 211th, is Nadal’s next opponent.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem also moved into the second round with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Croatia’s Marin Cilic.

The 27-year-old Austrian, who won his maiden Grand Slam title in New York a fortnight ago, has lost to Nadal in each of the past two finals at Roland Garros.

The pair have been drawn in the same half of the men’s singles, meaning they could only meet in the semi-finals this year.

Nadal is seeded second behind Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic and says the rearranged tournament will provide the “toughest conditions” yet for him.

The 19-time Grand Slam singles champion, who is aiming to move level with Roger Federer’s all-time leading men’s tally, has only played one clay-court event going into Roland Garros and the cooler conditions are not as beneficial to his game.

Although the scoreline against Gerasimov was comfortable, he was given a decent workout by the Belarusian.