Rafael Nadal moved to the brink of his 300th win at a Grand Slam as the Spaniard hammered home a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 opening victory over Jordan Thompson on Monday at the French Open.
The 13-time Paris winner who is now playing for history, spent barely two hours in dispatching the mustachioed Australian, showing little sign of the chronic foot injury which he confessed has dominated in a career spent playing in pain.
Nadal came to Roland Garros without a clay title after not competing for six weeks due to a flare-up of his foot problems and a rib injury suffered in March.
The Spaniard, who turns 36 next Friday, completed his 299th win at a Grand Slam and is set to join Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the 300-plus club if he reaches the third round.
While he was pleased with an efficient win, Nadal was not totally satisfied with his effort.
“It’s incredible to play again on Chatrier. The first round is always a special match in the first round and I’m happy to have gone through in three sets.
“But I’m well aware that there is significant room for improvement “
The Spaniard added: “This is the most important place of my career, where I’ve experienced the strongest emotions in sport.
“It’s a unique feeling to be able to play on this court, it has an incredible story.
“I need to look forward , train a little better every day and continue to give myself opportunities to compete.
“It’s a gift to be here and compete at Roland Garros. I’m going to try to do everything possible to create an opportunity for myself.”
British 10th seed Cam Norrie duplicated Nadal’s straightforward passage with a quick win of his own, 7-5, 6-2, 6-0 over French wildcard Manuel Guinard in two and a quarter hours.
He was joined in the second round by compatriot Dan Evans, a 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4 conqueror of Argentine Francisco Cerundolo.
Former Paris champion Stan Wawrinka, back from two foot surgeries over the period of more than a year, was unable to hold onto a first-set lead, falling 2-6. 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 to Coretin Moutet.
“The first set was good but obviously it’s a great disappointment to lose in a Grand Slam, but it’s the reality of my life now,” the three-time major title winner said.
“I knew that I needed to work a lot to work physically. It’s not that I’m playing badly or I’m not good, but I’m not yet feeling good for matches like that.
“But this is exactly, this is the mirror of where I am now. You have to go through times like this with bad matches, with bad first rounds in a Grand Slam.
“I need to play a few matches to renew the feelings you look for in a match,” added the player who won back-to-back matches this month in Rome.
Serb Filip Krajinovic accounted for American servebot Reilly Opelka, dishing out a 7-(5), 6-2, 6-3 victory.