World No 1 Ashleigh Barty marked her return to the French Open for the first time since her 2019 title triumph by overcoming a scare to beat Bernarda Pera to make the second round on Tuesday. But she admitted to suffering from a hip problem and not being 100% fit.

Italian 37-year-old Andreas Seppi, playing in his 63rd successive Grand Slam, stunned 20th seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 7-6 (10/8), 4-6, 6-4.

Venus Williams, playing the tournament for the 24th time and a runner-up 19 years ago, saw her 89th Grand Slam end as Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova eased to a 6-3, 6-1 win.

Carla Suarez Navarro came close to winning her first match back after recovering from cancer, but bowed out 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 at the hands of Sloane Stephens.

Tuesday was a miserable day for home hopes as only three of 18 French men made the second round, the country’s worst performance since the dawn of the Open era in 1968.

Barty, the top-seeded Australian, won 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 and will next face Magda Linette of Poland.

Barty skipped the defence of her title in 2020 due to the pandemic but has been in rich form this year.

After easing through the first set on Court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday, Barty went off the boil in the second and called for the trainer at the changeover.

The Australian had arrived on court with a heavy strapping on her leg having also suffered a tournament-ending abdomen injury in Rome two weeks ago. However, she broke the 70th-ranked Pera for a 4-2 lead in the decider and never looked back.

“I’m not going to hide behind the fact I’m not quite 100%,” said the 25-year-old whose left thigh was heavily strapped.

Earlier in the day, fifth seed Elina Svitolina recovered from a 2-5 second set deficit to beat French teenager Oceane Babel 6-2, 7-5.

Svitolina, a three-time quarter-finalist in Paris, will face world number 75 Ann Li of the United States for a place in the last 32.

Li marked her French Open debut with a 45-minute 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Margarita Gasparyan.

Suarez Navarro, a former world number six and two-time quarter-finalist in Paris, was told in September 2020 that she was suffering with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

But almost nine months later, Suarez Navarro is back after recovering following eight chemotherapy and 15 radiotherapy sessions.

Roland Garros was the first step of a farewell tour before retirement which will also take in Wimbledon, the US Open and possibly the Olympics in Tokyo.

The 32-year-old served for the match against 2018 runner-up Stephens on Tuesday, but eventually lost 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 after two hours and 24 minutes on Court Simonne Mathieu.

“Of course I feel tired at the end. I know that if I don’t close the match in two sets, it will be so difficult for me,” said Suarez Navarro.


First round:

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

Magda Linette (POL) bt Chloe Paquet (FRA) 6-3, 6-3

Astra Sharma (AUS) bt Irina Maria Bara (ROM) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

Ons Jabeur (TUN x25) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 7-5, 6-2

Coco Gauff (USA x24) bt Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 7-6 (13/11), 6-4

Wang Qiang (CHN) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 2-6, 6-4, 7-5

Fiona Ferro (FRA) bt Liang En-shuo (TPE) 6-1, 1-6, 6-4

Jennifer Brady (USA x13) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 6-3, 6-3

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x9) bt Donna Vekic (CRO) 7-5, 6-4

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3, 6-3

Karolina Muchova (CZE x18) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS x32) bt Venus Williams (USA) 6-3, 6-1

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) bt Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2

Ann Li (USA) bt Margarita Gasparyan (RUS) 6-0, 6-1

Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Oceane Babel (FRA) 6-2, 7-5

Maria Sakkari (GRE x17) bt Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-4, 6-1

Jasmine Paolini (ITA) bt Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 7-5, 6-1

Anett Kontaveit (EST x30) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-0

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) 6-4, 6-0

Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4

With AFP inputs