American sixth seed Coco Gauff recovered from an error-strewn start to begin her French Open quest with a 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Spain’s Rebeka Masarova on Tuesday.
Gauff, runner-up a year ago, looked uncomfortable early on with her troublesome forehand frequently letting her down.
World number 71 Masarova, a former French Open junior champion, took full advantage to dominate the opening set and looked on course for a shock victory.
But 19-year-old Gauff settled down on a sunlit Court Suzanne Lenglen and reeled off seven games in a row from 1-1 in the second set to take command.
With her confidence restored, Gauff made no mistake as she moved 5-2 ahead in the decider and wrapped up victory with a hold to love as Masarova sent an attempted lob long.
It has been an underwhelming season so far for Gauff despite beginning it in style by winning the Auckland title where she beat Masarova in the final for the loss of only two games.
The American managed just three wins during the claycourt season prior to arriving in Paris and during the first set it was easy to see why as she struggled to harness her A-game.
By the end, however, she displayed the kind of tennis that took her to her first Grand Slam final a year ago, although Masarova’s 43 unforced errors did provide assistance.
“The final is in the past so I’m not worried about that,” Gauff said of her initially rocky return to Roland Garros. “I had some bad games in the first set but I knew that I was going to be able to turn it around.
“Today, there were aspects of my game where I wasn’t playing my best but I’m confident on this surface in these conditions.”
Gauff will face Austria’s Julia Grabher in round two.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 30, 2023
Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva claimed her first senior grand slam victory.
The Russian, who only celebrated her birthday last month, has been making rapid strides in the women’s game and brushed aside experienced American Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2 6-1 at Roland Garros.
That followed a breakthrough week at the Madrid Open when Andreeva reached the fourth round.
“Of course, it feels amazing for me,” said the teenager. “I’m really excited that I managed to win this match after passing the qualis draw. So, of course, I’m really happy, and I’m looking forward to playing the next round.”
Sixth seed Ons Jabeur suffered a shock first-round exit last year when she was among the title favourites but eased through this time, beating Lucia Bronzetti 6-4 6-1.
The Tunisian said: “Playing on Philippe Chatrier is such a beautiful court, but I don’t have a good history with it. Every first round is very difficult in a grand slam. I was pretty stressed, I’ve got to say, but I was just trying to play my game.”