Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic win French Open first-round ties

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has won 67 of his 68 matches at Roland Garros
French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 24 May - 7 June
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra commentaries on every Andy Murray match and other key matches.

Rafael Nadal began his quest for a 10th French Open title with a straight-sets victory over teenager Quentin Halys.

Frenchman Halys, an 18-year-old wildcard, had the Roland Garros crowd on his side but was not consistent enough to trouble the champion.

And sixth seed Nadal, 28, won 6-3 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The Spaniard is in the same half of the draw as top seed Novak Djokovic, who beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2.

Djokovic has now won 23 matches in a row as he attempts to claim his first title at Roland Garros and become the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam of Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens.

He was given a useful workout by Finland's Nieminen, the 33-year-old taking a surprise 5-2 lead in the second set.

Novak Djokovic
World number one Djokovic is due to meet Nadal in the last eight

That merely served to bring the best out of Djokovic, who won the next nine games in a row to effectively seal victory.

"I always feel a lot of emotion when I get back on this court," said Djokovic, who won the Australian Open at the beginning of February and was runner-up to Nadal in Paris last year and in 2012.

"This year I'm playing very well and I hope I will get the confidence I have had since the beginning of the year."

Career Grand Slam champions
Roger Federer (17 Grand Slam titles in total)Andre Agassi (8)
Rafael Nadal (14)Fred Perry (8)
Roy Emerson (12)Don Budge (7)
Rod Laver (11)

The 28-year-old could meet Nadal - who has slipped down the world rankings during a disappointing clay-court season by his standards - as early as the quarter-finals.

Nadal took the first step in that direction, and improved his record at Roland Garros to 67 wins and one defeat, with a solid opening effort.

There were a few worried glances to coach Toni Nadal in the stand when one service game went against him in a scratchy first set, but the nine-time champion made just one error in the second.

Halys, the US Open boys' runner-up in 2014, showed enough flashes of talent to engage his home crowd with his forehand, drop shot and willingness to attack the net.

Nadal closing in on Court
The Spaniard is bidding to become the first player since the Open era began in 1968 to win 10 titles at any Grand Slam event. Margaret Court won the Australian Open on 11 occasions between 1960 and 1973.

Nadal was restricted to a single break of serve in the second and third sets but it was all he needed to earn a second-round meeting with compatriot Nicolas Almagro.

"When I've had some up and downs during the season, it's normal that can happen here," said Nadal.

"I am trying to avoid that. I am here to try to play good tennis and give myself a chance to play well and compete for everything.

"My mentality and my goal is the same always."

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has now won 67 matches at Roland Garros and lost just one - to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009
Quentin Halys
Halys, 18, still plays the majority of his tennis on the Challenger and Futures circuits - levels below the ATP Tour

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