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Serena Williams made a triumphant Grand Slam return on Tuesday and advanced to the second round of the 2018 French Open, beating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (4), 6-4 in her comeback from a 16-month pregnancy absence.
Rafael Nadal moved on in his title defence at Roland Garros, battling past Simone Bolelli to clinch a second-round spot. Nadal emerged a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9) victor as the Italian put up a stubborn fight.
Third seed Marin Cilic was among a group of big names who progressed to the second round after he beat James Duckworth in straight sets. No. 9 John Isner also failed to drop a set but was pushed hard in his victory over American countryman Noah Rubin, edging the 22-year-old 6-3, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7).
Maria Sharapova made her return to Roland Garros after three years away due to her drug suspension, reopening her French Open account with a tough 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Richel Hogenkamp.
Sharapova is 28th in the women’s seeds and will face Donna Vekic in the next round, while Garbine Muguruza (third seed) and Carolina Garcia (seventh) also advanced to the second stage.
Read on for more discussion of Tuesday’s first-round results from the French Open and highlights of the latest action at Roland Garros.
(1) Rafael Nadal bt. Simone Bolelli: 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9)
Pablo Cuevas bt. Aljaz Bedene: 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
(3) Marin Cilic bt. James Duckworth: 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (4)
Jan-Lennard Struff bt. Evgeny Donskoy: 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
Maximilian Marterer bt. Ryan Harrison: 6-1, 6-3, 7-5
Hubert Hurkacz bt. Tennys Sandgren: 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
(24) Denis Shapovalov bt. John Millman: 7-5, 6-4, 6-2
(6) Kevin Anderson bt. Paolo Lorenzi: 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Thomas Fabbiano bt. Matthew Ebden: 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
(9) John Isner bt. Noah Rubin: 6-3, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7)
Marton Fucsovics bt. Vasek Pospisil: 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (5)
(18) Fabio Fognini bt. Pablo Andujar: 6-4, 6-2, 6-1
Horacio Zeballos bt. Yuichi Sugita: 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2
(16) Kyle Edmund bt. Alex de Minaur: 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Guido Pella bt. Joao Sousa: 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
Ruben Bemelmans bt. Yuki Bhambri: 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
Steve Johnson bt. (25) Adrian Mannarino: 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-2
Mischa Zverev bt. Florian Mayer: 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (3)
Elias Ymer bt. Dudi Sela: 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-1
Serena Williams bt. Kristyna Pliskova: 7-6 (4), 6-4
Fiona Ferro bt. Carina Witthoeft: 6-4, 6-2
Bethanie Mattek-Sands bt. Johanna Larsson: 6-4, 6-3
(3) Garbine Muguruza bt. Svetlana Kuznetsova: 7-6 (0), 6-2
Samantha Stosur bt. Yanina Wickmayer: 6-2, 6-4
(24) Daria Gavrilova bt. Sorana Cirstea: 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3
Irina-Camelia Begu bt. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova: 6-4, 5-7, 9-7
(27) Shuai Zhang bt. Kristina Kucova: 6-0, 7-5
(28) Maria Sharapova bt. Richel Hogenkamp: 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
(16) Elise Mertens bt. Varvara Lepchenko: 6-7 (9), 7-6 (4), 6-0
Alison van Uytvanck bt. Isabelle Wallace: 6-1, 6-0
Aliaksandra Sasnovich bt. Denisa Allertova: 6-4, 6-3
(18) Kiki Bertens bt. Aryna Sabalenka: 6-2, 6-1
(7) Caroline Garcia bt. Yingying Duan: 6-1, 6-0
(17) Ashleigh Barty bt. Natalia Vikhlyantseva: 6-3, 6-1
(30) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova bt. Polona Hercog: 6-4, 7-6 (1)
Visit the Roland Garros website for the results in full.
In her first major appearance since winning the 2017 Australian Open, Williams was effective, if not efficient, in her 7-6 (4), 6-4 beating of Pliskova. She said after the display she’s happy to take her return slowly, per BBC Sport.
“It’s been two years since I played on clay,” Williams said. “It’s been a really long time, but I trained really hard on the clay. I feel good. I’m just happy to have won a match here. I’m just taking it a day at a time.”
The birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., last year meant a temporary hiatus on the three-time French Open winner’s tennis career, but her first major match in almost 18 months posed positive omens:
Back where she belongs… @serenawilliams announces her return to the Parisian clay in style, 7-6(4) 6-4 over Kristyna Pliskova. #RG18 https://t.co/eicIMK6nrp
Nadal’s 80th match victory at Roland Garros required a gritty performance against Bolelli after the pair resumed on Tuesday, rain having called off their Monday evening clash with the Spaniard leading 6-4, 6-3, 0-3.
Bolelli pushed the defending champion to his first tiebreak at Roland Garros since his 2013 semi-final victory over Novak Djokovic, per tennis writer Jose Morgado, who also provided proof Nadal was worthy of his win:
José Morgado @josemorgado
Nadal comes back from a break down, two minibreaks down, saves 4SPs in the 3rd and beats Bolelli 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(9) in 3 hours. #RG18 29 consecutive sets won at #RolandGarros
The overnight break appeared to serve Nadal well as he won the first three games after resuming on Tuesday to tie 3-3 before grunting to a hard-fought tiebreak triumph, keeping his streak of set victories intact.
Nadal was humble in victory and spoke well of Bolelli, who held a fine account of himself despite the straight-sets scoreline, per Metro‘s George Bellshaw:
George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge
Nadal: ‘Every round is difficult. Today I played against a very aggressive player in Simone. I suffered, I went through tough moments and that is important.’
Isner served 28 aces in his straight-sets win over Rubin and faced only two break points in the match, both of which came at 4-4 in the third and final set as the more experienced American moved on.
Cilic kept up Tuesday’s theme of favourites advancing as he beat Duckworth 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (4), and his favourable-looking run to the finals bracket will continue against Hubert Hurkacz:
ATP Media Info @ATPMediaInfo
.@cilic_marin, seeded a career-best  in a #GrandSlam tournament, fired 13 aces and hit 47 winners overall in a 63 75 76 victory over Duckworth #RolandGarros. He will face #NextGenATP Polish [Q] Hubert Hurkacz, who beat Sandgren 62 62 36 63 in #GrandSlam debut.
Aside from the attention courted by Williams, Sharapova’s return to the French Open drew an audience of its own, although that meant the nerves suggested by her mid-match wobble were also on full view.
Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times illustrated how she was cruising against Hogenkamp before her Dutch opponent found an opening back into contention:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
In her first French Open match in three years, Maria Sharapova was cruising, up 6-1, 3-1. Suddenly it’s all #133 Richel Hogenkamp, who leads 1-6, 6-4, *2-0. #RG18
No. 3 Muguruza was the highest-seeded star in action in the women’s singles on Tuesday, and she looked superb on the Parisian clay as she strode to a straight-sets smashing of Svetlana Kuznetsova:
RG16 champion, @GarbiMuguruza wins her first round against another former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2 sets 7/6 6/2. More highlights on RG Youtube channel https://t.co/L0wmcTZXGO #RG18 https://t.co/8zWPBYaJ19
She and seventh seed Caroline Garcia will be ones to keep an eye one, particularly after the latter demolished Yingying Duan 6-1, 6-0, sending a statement to the rest of the field as she took her place in the second round.