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French Open

Novak Djokovic wins opening match at French Open; Naomi Osaka bounced in the first round

Novak Djokovic eased into the second round of the French Open on Monday.Adam Pretty/Getty

Novak Djokovic’s first Grand Slam match in 7 1/2 months went about as well as possible.

The No. 1-seeded Djokovic opened his title defense at the French Open with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 victory in less than two hours over Yoshihito Nishioka. He improved to 18-0 for his career in the first round at Roland Garros.

About the only uncomfortable moment for Djokovic might have been when some spectators booed after he let out some yells after winning points in the second set.

The match was played Monday night with the retractable roof at Court Philippe Chatrier shut because of rain.

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Djokovic, who turned 35 on Sunday, is pursuing a third title in Paris and a 21st Grand Slam trophy overall, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal for the men's record.

He hadn't played in a major tournament since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final last September, ending Djokovic's bid to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam for a man since 1969.

Djokovic could not compete at the Australian Open this January because he has decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. There is no vaccine requirement for the French Open.

Rafael Nadal and all of his aches and pains reached the second round.

The 13-time champion at Roland Garros beat Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal won his men’s-record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open but he has only recently returned from a rib injury that has bothered him since March.

He has also been dealing with chronic pain in his left foot. That kept him out of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, and bothered him again during a loss on clay in Rome this month.

Nadal will next face Corentin Moutet, a French wild-card entry who beat 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

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On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka’s return to the French Open ended in the first round.

The former top-ranked player lost her opening match to Amanda Anisimova 7-5, 6-4.

Anisimova is a 20-year-old American who reached the French Open semifinals in 2019. She also beat Osaka in the third round at the Australian Open in January.

Osaka double-faulted twice on break point, once in each set. After the second, which gave Anisimova a 4-3 lead, Osaka took a 40-0 lead in the next game but the American held.

Osaka played with tape on her left Achilles. She was stretching it and kicking it with her right foot when she was broken in the seventh game of the second set.

Osaka said she is “leaning more towards not playing” at Wimbledon again because the WTA and ATP have said they will not award ranking points this year after the All England Club banned players from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.

The four-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked player sat out Wimbledon in 2021 as part of a mental health break following her withdrawal at the French Open.

After her first-round loss, Osaka said the tennis tours’ move to withhold ranking points from Wimbledon “is kind of affecting my mentality” and she is “not 100% sure if I’m going to go there.”

She said she is “the type of player that gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up,” but added that she needs to think about the issue more before making a final decision and could change her mind.

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US Open champion Emma Raducanu’s French Open debut was as difficult as can be for more than a set before she emerged with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 victory over Czech qualifier Linda Noskova.

The 12th-seeded Raducanu trailed by a set, then was down a break in the second set twice, before coming back to win in more than 2 1/2 hours against a player who was trying to pull off the sort of upset Raducanu did over and over again at Flushing Meadows last year.

At the US Open, Raducanu was an 18-year-old participating in only her second Grand Slam tournament — and she became the first qualifier to win a major tennis trophy.

Elsewhere in the women’s singles, Barbora Krejcikova became only the third defending women’s champion to lose in the first round at Roland Garros.

Krejcikova, a Czech player who was seeded second at Roland Garros, lost to 97th-ranked Diane Parry 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

It was Krejcikova’s first match since February because of an injured right elbow.

The only other two women to lose in the first round a year after winning the title at Roland Garros were Anastasia Myskina in 2005 and Jelena Ostapenko in 2018.

Top-seeded Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 29 matches.

The Polish player, who won the French Open title in 2020, beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0 in the first round on Court Phillipe Chatrier.

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Swiatek’s winning streak is the longest by any woman since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013. She has won the title at her past five tournaments. She’s also won a tour-leading 14 sets at 6-0 this season.