Top seed Simona Halep found her comfort zone after trailing 4-2 in the opening set, laying on a 29th birthday fightback on Sunday to start her French Open campaign 6-4, 6-0 over Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Halep, champion on clay at Prague and Rome in the Roland Garros run-up, secured her second-round place on a windswept autumn day with rain a constant worry.

She pounded out the victory with a 10-game win streak in 84 minutes.

The Romanian earned her 15th straight win since returning to tennis after the COVID-19 lockdown ended last month,,

“Celebrations” promised to be almost non existent with players under lockdown for the fortnight.

” I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottle of water,” Halep said.

“The perfect present was that I won today, of course. It was really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday.

“That’s going to to be pretty unique maybe forever.”

The tournament was postponed from its normal May start to now due to the virus crisis, which meant a total of just 1,000 fans can attend on any given day.

“I was very honored to be the first women’s match played under the new roof,” Halep said.

“We could play and the rain didn’t stop us at all. It was pretty cold outside. But we were very (far) away from the wind so we could play normally.”

Tenth seed Victoria Azaranka came back out later after storming off court due to Arctic conditions, rain and the threat of injury returning after a pause to defeat Danka Kovinic 6-1, 6-2.

The former No. 1 and double Grand Slam champion from Belarus based in warm-weather Florida was not best pleased by the nasty autumn weather in Paris and voiced her complaints while leading 2-1.

Only 11 minutes after play began, Azarenka was packing her bag and walking off court – followed by her opponent – saying the miserable weather made for an unplayable situation.

“It’s eight degrees, I live in Florida, I’m used to hot weather,” she told a supervisor who had wanted the pair to wait it out on the chilly Lenglen secondary showcourt.

“No, it’s ridiculous, it’s too cold. What’s the point? Sitting here like ducks,” she added before leaving.

Azarenka later explained further:

“It’s not about being unhappy, it’s about just having a little bit of understanding. It was drizzling, when I was warming up.

“When it drizzles for about two hours in a row, it (the balls and clay) gets a little heavier.

“I was just asking. I think my opponent first of all slipped in the third game, so I think she was also feeling a little bit uncomfortable.”

A Russian qualifier took the honours as first winner of the wintery day, with 19-year-old Kamilla Rakhimova marking her first career match at a Grand Slam by knocking out US Open quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-3.

Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens swept the last four games to put out Margarita Gasparyan 6-2, 6-3 with the Russian holding serve only once over one and three-quarter hours.

Venus Williams lost in the first round here for a third year in a row, going down 6-4, 6-4 to No. 161 Anna Karolina Schmeidlova. The Slovak repeated history after upsetting Williams in Paris six years ago.


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