2021 French Open: Rafael Nadal progresses after beating Alexei Popyrin
World number two and 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal started the 2021 edition with a first-round victory over 21-year-old Alexei Popyrin. Nadal beat Popyrin in straight sets, winning the tie 6-3, 6-2, 7-6. Meanwhile, seventh seed Andrey Rublev was stunned by Jan-Lennard Struff in five sets. In the women's singles, world number one Ashleigh Barty progressed to the second round.
Nadal dispatches Popyrin in straight sets
The match started on an even note as Popyrin hung in from the baseline and made things work. At 3-3 in the first set, Popyrin had served four aces. Nadal broke Popyrin before winning 6-3. Nadal won seven games in a row and took a 4-0 lead in the second set. In the third set, Popyrin showed immense character but lost 6-7.
Nadal scripts these feats after beating Popyrin
Nadal, who took the first set 6-3, clinched his 300th set win at Roland Garros. He now has 302 set wins. Playing his 103rd match at the French Open, Nadal has extended his win-loss record to 101-2. This was his 29th successive win at Roland Garros since a third-round exit in 2016. This was the second career meeting between the two. Nadal leads 2-0.
Rublev beaten in five-set thriller
Rublev was knocked out by Germany's Struff. The Russian fought back from two sets down before succumbing 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6 in three hours and 46 minutes. The 23-year-old had reached the quarter-finals in each of the last three Slam events. The big-hitting Struff will face Argentina's Facundo Bagnis in the second round. Bagnis beat Benjamin Bonzi 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
2021 French Open: Ashleigh Barty progresses
Barty came through an injury scare to avoid a shock defeat in the French Open first round against American Bernarda Pera. Barty, who has won her only Slam title in Paris back in 2019, took the first set but needed lengthy treatment on her left leg after losing the second. However, the Aussie star recovered to beat Pera 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Wins for Svitolina, Brady and Sakkari
In other crucial women's singles first-round matches, fifth seed Elina Svitolina survived a second-set fright to beat teenage debutant Oceane Babel 6-2, 7-5. She will meet USA's Ann Li in the second round, who overcame Russia's Margarita Gasparyan 6-0, 6-1. Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets. Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari overcame Ukraine's Katarina Zavatska 6-4, 6-1.