Tennis

French Open: Shapovalov wins for 1st time at Roland Garros

Denis Shapovalov has advanced to the second round at the French Open. The Canadian teen, seeded 24th, defeated John Millman of Australia 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 in a first-round match on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal also advances, Serena Williams wins 1st match in return

Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates winning against John Millman of Australia during Tuesday’s first-round match at the French Open. (Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press)

Denis Shapovalov is off to the second round of the French Open in his main draw debut at Roland Garros.

The Canadian teen, seeded 24th, defeated John Millman of Australia 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 in a first-round match on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver dropped a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (5) decision to Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in another first-round match.

Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., was tied at one set apiece with Pierre-Hugues Herbert when play was suspended for the evening on Tuesday.

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Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the first set, fighting off one set point in the process.

He said he wasn't concerned with his early struggles.

"My confidence on clay has grown," Shapovalov said. "My inner belief that I can come back is with me even during the tough moments."

After a rain delay halted play for an hour with Shapovalov trailing 2-3 in the second set, the Canadian lost just three games the rest of the way.

Shapovalov, 19, compiled a 32-9 edge in winners and converted six of 12 break points.

"I'm really happy with the win," Shapovalov said. "It's not an easy match against John, he's such an experienced player."

A year after losing in the opening round of qualifying in Paris, he is the second-youngest man in the French Open field.

Shapovalov will next face Maximilian Marterer of Germany, ranked 70th in the world, in the second round. Marterer defeated American Ryan Harrison 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday.

Shapovalov, 19, is competing in his fourth consecutive Grand Slam and his first as a seed. His best performance came in last year's U.S. Open, where he reached the fourth round.

Nadal through

Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited show of aggressive groundstroke hitting by lucky loser Simone Bolelli as he launched his campaign for an eleventh crown on the terre battue of Roland Garros with 6-4 6-3 7-6(9) victory.

Resuming the match on Tuesday after a thunderstorm ended the previous night's play early in the third set, Nadal was forced to an entertaining tiebreak to wrap up a hard-fought French Open first round encounter.

Bolelli resumed play as he had ended the night before: sending down missiles at Nadal from his baseline, seeking to prise open the Spaniard's defences. Two audacious backhand passing shots on the Nadal first serve and several disguised drop shots brought loud gasps from the crowd.

Nadal maintained the calm and poise of a French Open champion who entered the tournament with a 79-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros, retrieving seemingly impossible balls and letting rip with his own exquisite passing shots.

He survived four set points against him in the tiebreak, coming back from a 3-6 deficit, before finally triumphing.

"It was a very difficult match. Simone played so aggressive, he had so many chances in the third (set)," Nadal told the centre court crowd.

Bolelli was fearless from the outset, with nothing to lose. Nadal, after all, had won his tenth French Open title in 2017 without dropping a single set and has been in imperious form, arriving in Paris with a 19-1 win-loss record on clay this year.

The world number one grinded out Monday's first set 6-4 but the Italian kept coming, at times hitting the ball harder and flatter than Nadal to lead by a break in the second before Nadal fought back to take a two-set lead.

Still Bolelli was not yet done, returning to the court on Tuesday with an early break in the bag and hitting ferociously at the Nadal baseline. Yet he was unable to break through and squandered four set points.

"It was a good test for me," Nadal said.

Williams shines in return

Meanwhile, Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam match as a mother — and first match at a major in 16 months.

Williams beat 70th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (4), 6-4 at the French Open on Tuesday to reach the second round.

The 36-year-old American hadn't competed at a Grand Slam tournament since the Australian Open in January 2017, when she earned her 23rd major championship while pregnant.

Williams gave birth to a daughter last September.

She wore a black bodysuit with a red waistband on Tuesday.

There are no Canadians entered in the women's singles competition.

However, Ottawa's Gabriela Dabrowski and Croatia's Mate Pavic are the top-seeded duo in the mixed doubles draw. They won the mixed doubles title last January at the Australian Open.

Dabrowski is also playing in the women's doubles competition with Yifan Xu of China. They are seeded fifth.

In men's doubles, Toronto's Daniel Nestor will team with Jeremy Chardy of France. Pospisil will team with Harrison and Adil Shamasdin of Pickering, Ont., will play with Sander Arends of the Netherlands.

With files from Reuters

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