The third and final Major of the season is off and running in cold and gray Paris, with 128 players competing for the notable title that should have been won in June. The Sunday’s program’s opening matches saw three wins for the Americans, a rock-solid performance from the young gun Jannik Sinner and the 30th five-setter in a career for Kei Nishikori.
Seeking the second Major victory, Jannik Sinner toppled David Goffin 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and 59 minutes. Competing under a closed roof of Court Philippe-Chatrier, the Italian had 23 winners and 27 unforced errors, while the Belgian sprayed more than 40 unforced mistakes, losing the rhythm after the opener and suffering an early loss.
Dominating in both the shortest and most extended exchanges, Sinner converted seven out of 11 break chances, suffering two breaks and crossing the finish line in style to advance into the second round. After three easy holds at the beginning of the clash, the rivals traded four breaks to stay neck and neck, with Goffin fending off a break chance in game eight with a volley winner to level the score at 4-4.
Serving at 5-6, the Belgian was 40-15 in front, dropping the next four points to hand the set to Jannik after 53 minutes. The young Italian fended off three break chances at the beginning of the second set, delivering three straight breaks (four if we count the first set) to provide a bagel after a loose backhand from David in the sixth game, moving closer to the finish line.
Serving at 84%, Sinner dropped five points behind the initial shot in set number three, landing a backhand down the line winner to grab a break in game two and keeping it until the end. Jannik finished the job with two winners at 5-3, making a perfect Roland Garros debut at 19.
Playing his 30th five-setter, Kei Nishikori earned the 26th victory, ousting Daniel Evans 1-6, 6-1, 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 in three hours and 49 minutes.
Jannik Sinner and Kei Nishikori made winning start at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Thanks to those dominant sets he claimed, Daniel took three points more than Kei, delivering eight breaks and suffering seven, two of those in the decider which propelled Nishikori through.
They needed less than an hour to wrap up the opening two sets, with Evans having the upper hand in the first and Nishikori in the second to stand set apiece. The third set alone lasted for 72 minutes, with Nishikori leading 5-2 and wasting two set points in back-to-back games to bring the Briton back to 5-5.
They traded breaks in games 11 and 12 for more drama, with the Japanese winning the tie break 7-3 to move two sets to one in front. Daniel restored the order in the fourth set, clinching it 6-1 before falling 3-0 down in the decider.
Giving his best, Evans broke back in game five, staying in touch until 4-4 and suffering a break in game ten that sent Kei into the second round. A qualifier Sebastian Korda clinched the first ATP victory, beating Andreas Seppi 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 25 minutes.
The 21st seed John Isner ousted Elliot Benchetrit 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 for only the third win after the season restart, dropping 17 points on serve to fend off all break points and seizing five to control the scoreboard and move into the second round.