Alexander Zverev kicked off his 2018 French Open in frightening fashion destroying Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in just 69 minutes.
After a stunning loss to Fernando Verdasco last year, today was a far better opener for the 21-year-old German who is among the favorites behind Rafael Nadal to win.
“I have won two tournaments, made the finals in Rome,’ Zverev said. “Again, losing to Rafa in a close match. I feel good, and today was a good start to the tournament, and I’m happy the way it’s going.”
Zverev will enjoy two days off before returning on Wednesday against either Dusan Lajovic or Jiri Vesely.
Grigor Dimitrov opened play on Chatrier but not against Viktor Troicki. The Serb withdrew just before the 11am encounter allowing “lucky loser” Mohamed Safwat to make his Grand Slam debut. After a nervy opener, the first Egyptian man to play the French since 1996, settled down but came up short in the end 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(1).
“I just found out about 30 to 35 minutes before I had to go out,” said Dimitrov. “It’s not easy when those kinds of things happen, you just need to be ready. You have played many matches in the past. You prepare yourself every day for different obstacles, whether it’s weather, strings, balls, opponents. You just have to be ready.”
Dimitrov has never made it past the third round at Paris.
“I grew on up on clay. I think first time I hit on hard court was 11 or 12 years old. Until then it was all clay for me,” the Bulgarian said. “I never shied away from that surface. I always liked it. I always thought I could do better and I want to do better. So one day I know that I’m going to just improve. I think I’m improving with each year. I’m finding a better way of playing, and moving on the surface. Surely, we’re going to get there.”
Troicki wasn’t the only withdrawal on the day. Nick Kygios pulled out with a continued bad elbow. The Australian was due to face countryman Bernard Tomic in a tantalizing test. He’ll be replaced by an 8th “lucky loser” still to be determined.
The French had a good day with favorites Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille both advancing with relative ease. Monfils, though did have an ankle issue early in his match against French teen Elliot Benchetrit before winning in four sets.
Of the 16 men’s matches, five went the distance. In fading light, David Goffin beat a surly Robin Haase from two sets down.
Fernando Verdasco won yet another 5-setter – his 24th of his career – and earned his 100th career Grand Slam victory with a 4-hour, 20-minute thriller over Yoshito Nishioka.
Jared Donaldson had a good win over Chilean Nicolas Jarry and qualifier Guido Andreozzi upended Taylor Fritz in five. Radu Albot’s win over Gregoire Barrere was the other 5-setter.
On a very big Monday, former champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka all hit the courts.
Nadal and Djokovic will both play on Chatrier and will be heavily favored. Nadal meets “lucky loser” Simone Bolelli while Djokovic takes on qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva.
Wawrinka as won 18 of his last 20 in Paris but is just 1-2 this year on the clay. He’ll face Spanish vet Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who beat him at the French in 2014.
Dominic Thiem, John Isner and Richard Gasquet are also scheduled on the second of three days of first round play.
MONDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Play starts at 11am
Petra KVITOVA (CZE)  v Veronica CEPEDE ROYG (PAR)
Rogerio DUTRA SILVA (BRA) v Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) 
Danielle COLLINS (USA) v Caroline WOZNIACKI (DEN) 
Rafael NADAL (ESP)  v Simone BOLELLI (ITA)
Play starts at 11am
Guillermo GARCIA-LOPEZ (ESP) v Stan WAWRINKA (SUI) 
Andrea PETKOVIC (GER) v Kristina MLADENOVIC (FRA)
Andreas SEPPI (ITA) v Richard GASQUET (FRA)
Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS)  v Richel HOGENKAMP (NED)
Play starts at 11am
Benoit PAIRE (FRA) v Roberto CARBALLES BAENA (ESP)
Dominic THIEM (AUT) v Ilya IVASHKA (BLR)
Laura SIEGEMUND (GER) v Coco VANDEWEGHE (USA)
Barbora KREJCIKOVA (CZE) v Karolina PLISKOVA (CZE) 
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