'Outsider' Federer delighted to have ended four-year Paris exile

Roger Federer admitted he missed the French Open "so much" after marking his return to the clay court grand slam with a routine 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win over Italy's Lorenzo Sonego in the first round on Sunday.

Opening proceedings on Chatrier, Germany's Kerber was downed in two short sets by Russia's Anastasia Potapova as her attempt at completing a career slam was cut short on her least favourite surface.

The 24-year-old, who was supported by boyfriend Gael Monfils, said: "Sometimes in a few matches in the past two months, I was not thinking about what I had to do on court".

No.6 seed Petra Kvitova has been forced to withdraw from the 2019 French Open owing to a left forearm injury.

Potapova is a former junior world No. 1 who won the junior Wimbledon title.

"I knew I can play very well on clay and I am very happy I did it in straight sets today", Federer said to the crowd after the match.

"Of course this is not my excuse and everything".

The 38-year-old, now ranked 52, praised Svitolina, saying: "I thought she played really well and took her opportunities".

The teenager was again a break in front thanks to some deep, powerful hitting off of the ground that Kerber had no answer for, Potapova now with a 4-2 margin.

Kvitova, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2012, made a strong start to the clay court season by winning the title in Stuttgart and reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid.

The 13th seed bagelled her opponent in a 34-minute opening set, but somehow contrived to lose 0-6 6-3 6-3. "It is a really tough decision to make, but I wish the tournament all the best for a successful event and can't wait to be back in 2020".

Of the top men, No3 seed Roger Federer, playing his first match at Roland Garros since 2015, would be the standard-bearer for the biggest names in men's tennis: No1 Novak Djokovic and No2 Rafael Nadal would keep their powder dry for the following days.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champ and former No. 1, meanwhile rallied to beat 96th-ranked Taylor Townsend, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, on what she named the "cute" new Simonne Mathieu court. which is enclosed by greenhouses. "That's how I feel, anyhow".

Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas faces German left-hander Maximilian Marterer, the world 110. The ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine saw off American veteran Venus Williams 6-3, 6-3.

  • Julie Sanders