Rafael Nadal opened his French Open title defense on a winning note, dispatching French wildcard Quentin Halys in straight sets at Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.
The Spaniard, who is bidding for an unprecedented tenth title in the French capital strolled to a 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over the 18-year-old, who was only making his first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
He sets up countryman Nicolas Almagro, who saw off Alexandr Dolgopolov in a 6-3 2-6 6-4 7-6(6) win, in the second round. It will be the 14th meeting between Nadal and Almagro, with the former ahead 12-1 on their ATP Head2Head 12-1 record.
Top seed Novak Djokovic heaped emphasis on his title credentials with a 6-2 7-5 6-2 win over No. 87-ranked Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.
The win stretched Djokovic’s winning streak to 23 and his 11th on dirt surface in 2015.
Nadal broke Halya three times in the opening set, in which the No. 296th-ranked Halys managed to break to 30 for 3-4.
Halys hit 12 winners to Nadal’s 9 in the second set, but was broken in the sixth game. Nadal made do with his set point at 5-3 holding the teenager to love in the next game.
The Marjocan’s struggled with the timing and rhythm of his groundstrokes early into the third set but did found his feet, breaking Halys in the fifth game before closing out victory in one hour and 49 minutes.
“When I had the chance to play normal points, I think I changed [rallies with] good directions with my forehand [and] very good forehands down the line,” said Nadal.
“After the first three games, when I started a little bit slow, then I start moving the ball better. I am happy with the way that I played. It is the first match and I played well enough. I think my forehand worked well for a lot of moments.”
He was nonetheless full of praise for the 2014 US Open junior finalist, whom he described as “the future of tennis.”
“The new style of game he has, trying to hit winners from everywhere – that is the way tennis is moving now,” Nadal said. “Playing on centre court for the first time is not easy, so I wish him all the best.”
Djokovic, 28, took a step closer to a career Grand Slam by overcoming Nieminen in straight sets.
The 33-year-old Finn, who reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2003, twice came within a couple of points of taking the second set when he led 5-3 30/30 on the Serb’s serve and 30/30 in the next game. The world number 1 recovered from 2-5 down to take the set.
He immediately stamped his authority on proceedings in the third set, racing 4-0 ahead. But Nieminen saved three match points in the seventh game to stay alive, before Djokovic snuffed life out is his racquet on his fifth match point to move 36-2 clear this season.
Nieminen yet awaits his first win against a world No. 1 and is now 0-11 on head-to-head record with top-ranked professionals.
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Singles – First Round
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 62 75 62
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Quentin Halys (FRA) 63 63 64
 David Ferrer (ESP) d. Lukas Lacko (SVK) 61 63 61
 Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Robin Haase (NED) 62 64 62
 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Jack Sock (USA)
 Kevin Anderson (RSA) d. Tim Smyczek (USA) 64 64 62
 John Isner (USA) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 75 62 63
 Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Germain Gigounon (BEL) 63 64 60
 Leonardo Mayer (ARG) d. Jiri Vesely (CZE) 36 76(6) 63 57 62
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. Michael Berrer (GER) 46 63 64 64
Joao Sousa (POR) d. Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 63 76(5) 61
Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)
Andrea Arnaboldi (ITA) d. James Duckworth (AUS) 46 67(5) 76(4) 76(2) 60
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) vs. Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM)
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) d. Maxime Hamou (FRA) 67(4) 63 64 64
Nicolas Almagro (ESP) d. Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) 63 26 64 76(6)
Carlos Berlocq (ARG) d. Illya Marchenko (UKR) 46 36 63 75 62
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) d. Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 67(4) 61 61 75
Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) d. Joao Souza (BRA) 76(5) 64 64