PARIS – Top seed Simona Halep reached the second round of the French Open a day later than expected and not without a fright as she recovered from a slow start to beat American Alison Riske 2-6 6-1 6-1 yesterday.
The Romanian world number one stayed under wraps until the fourth day after her opening match was cancelled on Tuesday evening because of a schedule backlog.
She lost the opening five games but there was no sign of panic and her game eventually clicked into gear.
The 83rd-ranked Riske won three games in her previous claycourt meeting with the twice Roland Garros runner-up but broke serve three times in taking the opening set.
Halep reasserted her authority with the power of her groundstrokes stopping Riske - conceding just 14 points in sets two and three.
“It was good that I came back so strong,” Halep, beaten in last year’s final by Jelena Ostapenko, told reporters.
“I just wanted to relax my arms, because I was moving pretty well also at the beginning, but my arm was very tight and I couldn’t hit the ball as I wanted.”
Riske took advantage with eye-catching winners and took the first set before the Romanian found her range.
Halep will be in action today against American wildcard Taylor Townsend.
Elsewhere, it is just as well Novak Djokovic did not choose archery or shooting as his preferred sport.
Instead of a small circular board or a flying skeet to aim at, Djokovic has half a tennis court to use as his target.
Yesterday, however, Djokovic’s shots often failed to hit the bulls-eye.
The once all-conquering Serb started with a fault, ended the opening game with a double fault and fired shots wide and long as he tried to subdue Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar, eventually winning 7-6(1) 6-4 6-4.
“I went through my ups and downs and I’m not really satisfied with the performance. I just played enough in the right moments to win the match,” admitted 20th seed Djokovic, who is still trying to rediscover his golden touch since undergoing elbow surgery this year.
While his game is a long way from when he won four slams in a row from 2015 to 2016, he was quick to put his struggles into perspective.
“To sit here and talk about how tough it is and you have people starving to death, for me there is no point in talking about that. It’s just the way it is,” said Djokovic, who has failed to add to his haul of 12 Grand Slam titles since his 2016 Roland Garros triumph.
In the seven tournaments he had played before arriving in Paris, he has been beaten in the first round three times and has yet to reach a final.
“As an athlete I have to face these challenges,” the 31-year-old said with a shrug.
He will get a better idea of where his game is at when he faces Spanish 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the last 16.