Roger Federer spent as little time as possible on court on the opening day of the French Open yesterday, beating Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, before returning to his parental duties on Mother’s Day in Paris.
Watched by his wife, Mirka, and his twin girls, the Swiss former champion moved gently through the gears against the shaggy-haired Slovakian under gray skies on Philippe Chatrier court.
Federer declared himself satisfied with his win, before returning to help Mirka look after his newly born twin boys.
Venus Williams, wearing a self-designed dress that added splashes of color to a gray day, showed she is still a force at the age of 33 by taking, and returning, all that Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic could throw at her in winning 6-4, 6-1.
The 17-year-old Bencic, coached by Martina Hingis’ mother, traded low, hard blows with the American from the back of the court, but Williams had too much experience for the Swiss player.
Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, the 15th seed, recovered from two sets down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, while Milos Raonic and Agnieszka Radwanska shook off the morning chill to ease into the second round.
Poland’s Radwanska, the third seed, won 6-3, 6-0 after the first seven games against Zhang Shuai went against serve.
Canadian Raonic, seeded eighth, beat feisty Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3 and then charmed the Roland Garros crowd by conducting his on-court interview in French.
Radwanska set the ball rolling on the main Philippe Chatrier show under overcast skies.
Forecasters warn intermittent rain is expected over the early days of the tournament.
Wearing a floral print dress perhaps in anticipation of more springlike temperatures, Radwanska took a while to get into her rhythm against Zhang and both women struggled badly with their service, but the Pole eventually held for 5-3, after saving three break points, and then broke the Chinese to take the first set.
The second set was a rout.
“I think it was a very wet court. I think the courts are not always dry, it’s raining every day, so it makes the courts much slower,” Radwanska said.
“Every two-set match is great in a two-week tournament. It’s important that I spent only one hour on court,” added Radwanska, who played with a heavily strapped thigh.
She was badly hobbled by a knee injury when losing the Indian Wells women’s singles final to Flavia Pennetta in March.
Another Chinese, Zheng Jie, was also among the early losers, going down 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-4 to Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia. Daniela Hantuchova, another Slovak and seeded 31, came from a set down to beat Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Serena Williams, the No. 1 seed, younger sister of Venus and the strong favorite to retain her title in Paris, was also be in action on Philippe Chatrier against France’s Alize Lim.
Raonic pushed Novak Djokovic in the Rome semi-finals, before losing in three sets to the eventual champion and he eased through the first set against Kyrgios.
The eighth seed was broken midway through the second, but recovered immediately, leaving his 19-year-old opponent to hurl his racket to the court, shaking his head.
The Australian player got increasingly frustrated through the second-set tiebreak, berating himself repeatedly, before Raonic took it 7-1.
Raonic served out to win the third set on his third match point.