Federer dazzles on return to Paris

PARIS, May 31

Roger Federer marked his return to the Grand Slam arena in dazzling fashion with a 6-2 6-4 6-3 first-round defeat of qualifier Denis Istomin at the French Open today.

The 39-year-old Swiss had not played a Grand Slam match since the 2020 Australian Open and had managed only one claycourt match in the build-up to Roland Garros.

But any doubts about his condition were erased as he outclassed Istomin with a consummate display. Federer went through his usual repertoire of shot-making, including a string of early drop shots, and was playing in cruise control throughout the one-sided contest.

He was applauded warmly by the small Philippe Chatrier crowd who thoroughly enjoyed his 93-minute exhibition.

Federer missed last year’s French Open because of a knee injury and is appearing at Roland Garros for only the second time since 2015.

Monkey off back

Second seed Daniil Medvedev beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-3 7-5 in an entertaining clash to finally win his first-ever match at Roland Garros on his fifth attempt.

Birthday girl

Birthday girl Iga Swiatek faced some stiff resistance in the second set before the Pole went on to beat best friend Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-0 7-5 to launch her title defence.

Celebrating her 20th birthday, Swiatek got a warm hug before the start of the match from Juvan, who is her friend from junior ranks, but the Pole did not return any favours once they got on the opposite sides of the net at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

First hurdle

Bianca Andreescu became the highest women’s seed to fall so far as she lost a three-hour marathon match against Tamara Zidansek in the first round. The former US Open champion, seeded sixth, went down 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 to the Slovenian.

Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, the 16th seed, was beaten 6-1 3-6 6-4 by Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. — Reuters

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