Rafael Nadal breezed into the second round of the French Open with a straight-sets win over Egor Gerasimov at Roland Garros.
Seeking a remarkable 13th title at the clay-court grand slam, Nadal had suggested the conditions and heavier balls he described as “slow and dangerous” could impact his hopes.
He came into Monday’s meeting with the world number 83 having only played one tournament since February due to the coronavirus pandemic, losing to Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals in Rome.
MORE: Serena Williams set for New York repeat, Keys and Kerber crash out
Neither the balls nor any Nadal rust could prevent him from claiming a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory, though, Gerasimov’s admirable resistance fading after he turned his ankle in the third set.
The first break came Nadal’s way courtesy of a deft drop shot and that was enough to claim the first set, which he wrapped up with an ace out wide.
Gerasimov showed impressive athleticism for a man of his 6ft 5in frame but could not find his range when it mattered, and he fired a forehand long to hand Nadal the second set.
The Belarusian looked on course to prolong the inevitable after breaking for the first time to start the third to take a 2-0 lead.
However, Nadal soon erased the deficit and Gerasimov was never the same after receiving heavy strapping on his ankle in a medical timeout following a tumble on the decisive point of the set’s fourth game.
Nadal will face world number 236 Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.