Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal powered into the second round of the French Open today as both made impressive opening-day statements of intent.
The four-time grand slam champion and the teenage pretender to the Roland Garros crown both downplayed their achievements, but they glided through their first tests.
Federer, who has not been champion in Paris before, began with a 6-1 6-4 6-0 win over Dudi Sela of Israel. It took him just one hour and 29 minutes to set up a meeting with Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the second round.
“It was all right,” said Federer. “I’m just happy to be through. There’s good moments, but also bad moments.
“You can never be unhappy winning in straight sets, so it’s good, a good start.”
Eighteen-year-old Nadal has been the revelation of the 2005 season and arrived in the French capital as many people’s title favourite, having won three consecutive tournaments on clay.
His tally for the year stands at five tournament victories, and the Roland Garros debutant wasted little time in breezing past Germany’s Lars Burgsmuller, prevailing 6-1 7-6 (7/4) 6-1.
Despite the attention foisted upon him, the teenage nephew of former Spain footballer Miguel Angel Nadal said: “I don’t think I should be favourite the way I played today.
“I’m a player who won the last tournaments on clay. I’m 18 years old. But about being a favourite, well, no, I don’t think I’ve ever really been a favourite.
“Federer at Wimbledon maybe was a favourite. But on clay courts, everything is very open. You can’t really say there’s a favourite player.”
Nonetheless, Nadal hopes to celebrate his 19th birthday in style on June 3.
“It’s the day of the semi-final,” he said.
“I might be fishing in Mallorca. But I hope I’ll be here in Paris to celebrate my birthday. I might be on holiday, but we shall see.”
Nadal, 18, will face Belgian Xavier Malisse, who swept past American Mardy Fish 6-2 6-1 6-1 in just over an hour.
Other winners on day one included Mario Ancic, Carlos Moya and home favourite Sebastien Grosjean.
Croatian Ancic overcame Brazilian Marcos Daniel 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7/4), Moya won an all-Spanish battle against Alberto Martin 5-7 6-1 6-4 6-2 while Grosjean defeated Juan Monaco of Argentina 7-5 6-3 6-1.
Seventeenth seed Dominik Hrbaty from Slovakia was a first-round casualty, losing in five sets to Serbo-Montenegrin Janko Tipsarevic.
The underdog showed tremendous spirit to claim a 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 3-6 6-3 8-6 victory.
Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, seeded 25th, comfortably beat Frenchman Michael Llodra 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-2.