World numbers ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, as well as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber are all in action at Roland Garros on Tuesday.
After rain wreaked havoc with the schedule in Paris over the first couple of days, the weather forecast for the day in the French capital are much better on Tuesday as the tournament starts in earnest.
Three-times runner-up at Roland Garros Djokovic starts his quest to complete a career Grand Slam with a tie against Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Going into his match with the world number 95, Djokovic has won four of the last five grand slam titles, with his defeat in the final at Roland Garros to an inspired Stan Wawrinka last year the only blemish on his record in the slams in recent times.
“I got ten matches out of two weeks, which is maximum I could get out of Madrid and Rome, and it was a perfect way of getting the match play that I needed before French Open,” said Djokovic, who won the Masters Series title in Madrid before losing to Murray in the final in Rome.
“Of course, the expectations are big not just from my side but from people around knowing that this is the only Grand Slam I never won.
“I still feel like I have plenty of more years ahead of me, which gives me more comfort in terms of opportunities I’m going to have at the title of Roland Garros, which releases more pressure for me this year.”
Nadal, meanwhile, starts his campaign on Court Suzanne Lenglen against the 100th-ranked Australian Sam Groth, who is still looking for his first win on the red clay courts of the French capital.
Nine-time Roland Garros winner Nadal suffered just his second defeat in Paris when he was dumped out in the quarter-finals by Djokovic last year.
“Well, he has a huge serve. He’s uncomfortable first round. He’s a difficult one,” Nadal said of his first round opponent.
“You need to be ready to suffer a little bit during the match because I know it’s going to be difficult to have breaks.”
Murray went into the year’s second grand slam in the best clay court form of his career having beaten Djokovic in the Rome final, but found himself a set down when play was suspended on Monday with his first set match against the 37-year-old Radek Stepanek still some way from finishing.
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When darkness hit Paris on Monday, Murray was still trailing the oldest player in the draw 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 4-2 and with a deciding fifth set on the horizon.
Over on the women’s draw, last year’s winner Williams will have to defend the title for the first time, after she lost early in her previous attempts in 200 3 and 2014.
The world number one gets her campaign started against the 77th-ranked Slovakian player Magdalena Rybarikova.
“I think now it’s different because I want to win more than I think most people ever, but also I think it’s different now because I don’t have anything to prove and I don’t have anything – it’s just a different feeling,” Williams said of her mindset going into the tournament.
“Whereas five, ten years ago, oh, I’m defending and I feel that pressure. Now it’s like I’m defending, I’m in Paris, it’s cool, and I’m having, you know, the time of my life. I’m just happy to be here.”
Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber starts her campaign against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, although the third-seeded German has not been in the greatest of form of late.
Prior to withdrawing from last week’s Nuremberg Open with a shoulder injury, Kerber suffered successive opening match defeats in Madrid and Rome.
Fifth seed Victoria Azarenka faces Karin Knapp of Italy, while former champions Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Francesca Schiavone (2010), as well as former runner-up Venus Williams, are all in action as well.
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