We got to see a glimpse of the future on Sunday when the youngest player in the men’s draw, Nick Kyrgios, faced the youngest player in the top-10, Milos Raonic, who was briefly tested but still advanced 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3 to the second round.
Raonic, seeded No8 in Paris, is coming off his best result on clay to date – a semi-final showing in Rome where he stretched Novak Djokovic to three sets.
The Canadian, whose five ATP titles have all come on hard-court – a surface where he’s enjoyed his best winning percentage and has accumulated a century of victories. But the powerful server has found his footing on clay this season and he handled the tricky Kyrgios like a pro.
“I felt very good,” Raonic said following his first round win.
“I was able to do the things I wanted to do. Sort of the first round you go in not knowing exactly how things are going to play out, and I was able to, when it mattered, put forward the right attitude and the right level of tennis.”
Raonic had his first look at break points in the second game of the match when Kyrgios double-faulted but the 19-year-old Australian shook off the early nerves and saved both with some big serves to hold for 1-1.
It wasn’t long before Raonic broke though, as he edged ahead in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. The world No9 brought out a 213km/hr serve when he needed to save a break point when serving for the set and he fired another missile to seal it in 36 minutes.
Kyrgios, a former junior world No1 and ex-Australian Open junior champion, saved two break points in the fifth game of the second set to hold on before surprising Raonic with a backhand down the line winner the following game to inch ahead 4-2.
It required an immediate reaction from Raonic, who broke back and took the set to a tiebreak, which he blitzed through 7-1.
The pair traded breaks in the final set but Raonic eventually stepped up his game, sealing the match with his 27th ace.
“I was getting it together when it mattered, and that's all I can really ask for,” says Raonic. “He's very capable, he's talented, especially off the forehand side, he can surprise you in many ways.”
Kyrgios, who had his biggest win so far at the French Open last year when he beat Radek Stepanek in the first round, said he could have served better to capitalise on his chances in the second set but says he can find positives from the match.
“I was creating chances against a top‑10 player, and I think that's always confidence, you're going to walk away confident,” said the young Aussie.
Raonic faces the winner of Monday’s match between Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol.
Defending champion Serena Williams believes she has less pressure on her at this year's French Open as the American comfortably eased into the second round yesterday.
The world No1 eliminated her friend and fellow Mouratoglou Academy player Alize Lim 6-2, 6-1 in 158 minutes to book a last-64 date with Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
Despite admitting to some nerves, Williams suggested she is more relaxed than she was in her previous Roland Garros, which she had entered undefeated on clay and with titles in Charleston, Madrid and Rome.
This European clay swing, Williams made a surprise early exit in Charleston to Jana Cepelova and withdrew from her quarter-final against Petra Kvitova in Madrid with a thigh injury before recovering to win Rome.
“I was in really top form last year on the clay, or at least I thought I was. This year I’m just going day by day. I do have to say this year I don’t feel as much pressure on myself as I did last year,” said Williams.
Speaking of her match with Lim, she added: “It was interesting. I was a little nervous, like I always am in my first round. It’s kind of always hard for me to shake those nerves and go from there.”
Williams was joined in the second round by her sister Venus, who overcame an inspired first set performance from Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic to advance 6-4, 6-1.
The sisters are now one win away from a highly-anticipated third round encounter.
“I definitely feel like I’m proud of her, but at the same time, I want her to keep going and do better and do more and more,” Serena said of Venus, who is in a constant battle with the auto-immune disease Sjogren’s Syndrome.
World No3 Agnieszka Radwanska endured a bizarre first set that began with seven consecutive service breaks before dismissing young Chinese Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-0.
Meanwhile, Italy’s Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion and 2011 runner-up, crashed out, losing 6-3, 6-3 to Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.
Roger Federer made a flawless start to his 16th consecutive Roland Garros campaign, cruising past Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga triumphed in an all-French battle with Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The Swiss has made the most appearances in Paris amongst active players and he certainly proved that he felt at home on Court Philippe Chatrier yesterday.
Cheered on by his wife Mirka and two twin daughters in the stands, Federer was particularly clinical at the net being successful in 16 of the 20 net approaches during the one hour 24 minute first-round encounter.
Contesting in his 58th straight Grand Slam – an Open era record – Federer broke Lacko five times and didn't face a single break point on his serve as he moved on to set up a last-64 meeting with Argentine wildcard Diego Sebastian Schwartzman.
“I’m happy I got off to a good start for the tournament here in Paris,” said the 32-year-old. “There’s always that little bit of feeling that if you don’t feel well, if the opponent plays great, whatever happens so you could lose early.
“So I was happy getting early signs out of the match that I was actually playing well and I was going to get my chances I was looking for. It was a simple, straightforward match. I had everything under control from A to Z.
“On my service games there was never a dangerous moment. It’s always very pleasant to have such a good first round.”
Later on centre court, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga survived a nervy start against Roger-Vasselin and needed 112 minutes to get through the first two sets before shifting gears in the third to wrap up a 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-2.
The No13 seed is the only Frenchman to reach five Grand Slam semi-finals in the Open era – including one in Paris last year – but is not yet confident he can reach that stage again oer the course of the next fortnight.
“I’m not convinced. Not yet," said Tsonga of his chances of reaching the latter stages of the tournament. "And sometimes you’re convinced only when you’ve reached this stage.
“I didn’t have enough confidence, given the matches I had played before, and it’s also the beginning of a Grand Slam. And it’s also because it’s here, it’s Roland Garros, and I want to play well here, of course.
“[There were] many reasons why the beginning of the match this evening was this way. I hope that I’ll change for the following match.”
Over on Court 1, sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych debuted yet another controversial outfit, donning a flower-patterned shirt for his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Canada’s Peter Polansky.
The Czech, who was upset by Gael Monfils in the first round last year, has played every major since his first appearance in the 2003 US Open while Polansky was contesting his first Grand Slam since the 2010 US Open.
Other action saw Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny recover from two sets down to beat Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0 in the fifth while America’s John Isner took out local wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-5.
“I’m rather satisfied,” said Herbert, following a match in which he hit 11 aces to Isner’s 23. “I felt like this was an extraordinary moment. I’ve never been through anything like that.”