Milos Raonic, Roger Federer win as French Open begins
Canadian Peter Polansky loses to Tomas Berdych
Milos Raonic hopes his recent success on clay leads to a long run at the French Open.
The Canadian star won his opening match at the second Grand Slam of the year on Sunday, beating Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 to reach the second round.
Raonic, the eighth seed from Thornhill, Ont., needed exactly two hours to advance against one of the game's rising young stars. He also beat an Australian opponent for the first time at a Grand Slam after losing to Carsten Ball at the 2010 U.S. Open and Lleyton Hewitt at the 2012 Australian Open.
He won on his third match point, sealing victory with a 27th ace.
Raonic, who came to Roland Garros from a Rome semifinal last weekend, finished with 50 winners and 30 unforced errors, breaking on four of ten chances.
"I felt very good, I was able to do the things I wanted to do," said Raonic, who next plays one of two Czechs, Lukas Rosol of Jiri Vesely.
"In the first round you go in not knowing exactly how things are going to play out. When it mattered, I was able to put forward the right attitude and the right level of tennis. I'm happy with that."
Raonic has a career record of 32-23 on clay courts, compared to 100-42 on hard surfaces that don't deaden his powerful serve. But Raonic had two quarter-final appearances as well as the Rome semifinal in four clay-court tournaments leading up to the French Open. He's trying to go beyond the third round at Roland Garros for the first time in his career.
Polansky back in a Slam
Later Sunday, sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky of Thornhill 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Polansky, ranked 137th and playing in only his sixth career singles main draw at a major, last played a Grand Slam at the 2010 US Open.
He was successful on only one of six break points while committing 21 unforced errors with 15 winners.
"It's good to be back in the main draw of a slam," said Polansky. "I played well and enjoyed it. I was hoping to get a better draw, there are a lot of guys I could have beaten today.
"I played well, I just came up a it short. But I take a lot of positives out of the last few weeks. Maybe I have more belief in my game now that I'm older."
Raonic said that despite heavy conditions in wet Paris, the courts held up well compared to Rome.
"They're quite similar, though here they can change a little bit more due to the cloud coverage and not really that much sun the last few days," he said. "The ball wasn't bouncing as much as it had actually the last days on the outside courts.
Federer Family Day
The 23-year-old Raonic used his experience against the young Australian, reducing Kyrgios to racket-hurling frustration after breaking immediately after losing serve in the second set.
Raonic began the third set with a break for 2-0, lost it, but again gained the lead 4-2 on his way to victory.
Raonic said that he was having trouble at times on serve, but managed to fight through the problem.
"I was getting it together when it mattered, and that's all I can really ask," he said. "There was some moments where I was losing a little bit of concentration on my level, and I was able to put it together when I was in the important moments."
After answering on-court questions in French, Raonic then said he would tweet a message in the language later. He said he would have the tweet proofed by an expert speaker before broadcasting it to his 143,000 followers.
With his twin daughters watching from the stands, Roger Federer moved into the second round after a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Lukas Lacko on Sunday.
Federer has played in only two clay-court tournaments this season. He reached the final in Monte Carlo but missed the Madrid tournament when his second set of twins, boys Leo and Lenny, was born.
His first match after their birth was a loss in Rome.
On Sunday, with the clay court hard and damp due to days of rain and overcast skies, the fourth-seeded Federer was back to himself, winning five of his 11 break points.
Federer's twin girls, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, will turn 5 in July. They were sitting in Federer's box along with his wife Mirka.
In the women's tournament, Agnieszka Radwanska was able to reach the second round — once she got a handle on her serve.
Radwanska and Zhang Shuai traded breaks in the opening seven games of their match, but the third-seeded Pole finally held and won the final nine games to become the first player to reach the second round, winning 6-3, 6-0.
"So many breaks in a row," said Radwanska, who blamed her struggles on the wet court.
Serena, Venus moving on
Radwanska reached the Wimbledon final in 2012, but her best result at Roland Garros was a spot in the quarterfinals last year.
Serena Williams began the defence of her French Open title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory Sunday over 138th-ranked Alize Lim, a wild-card entry from France.
The top-seeded Williams dictated most points and wound up with 30 more winners — but also 24 more unforced errors — than Lim.
Williams is a 17-time major champion who was facing a woman making her Grand Slam debut. Still, there was a bit of shakiness from the 32-year-old American as she served out the final game, erasing four break points and needing five match points to close things.
She improved to 54-1 in first-round matches at majors. The only loss came at the 2012 French Open against 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano.
Sister Venus Williams advanced to the second round by beating Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-4, 6-1 Sunday.
Other men's winners included No. 10 John Isner of the United States, No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 15 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, No. 22 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, No. 31 Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
No. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and 31 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia also advanced. No. 25 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia lost to Monica Niculescu of Romania 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
With files from The Canadian Press