PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal eased closer to a French Open quarter-final showdown Tuesday but women’s tour poster girl Eugenie Bouchard was a first-round casualty as top-seeded Serena Williams cantered into the second round.
World number one Djokovic, bidding to win a first French Open and become just the eighth man to complete the career Grand Slam, defeated experienced Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.
The Serb will next face either Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller or Paolo Lorenzi of Italy.
Nadal opened his bid for a 10th title with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over world number 296 Quentin Halys.
Nadal, seeded a humble six this year in the same half of the draw as Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray needed just one hour and 50 minutes to see off the 18-year-old and goes on to face compatriot Nicolas Almagro for a place in the last 32.
Earlier Nadal’s compatriot David Ferrer, the seventh seed, bustled into the second round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko while US Open champion Marin Cilic hammered Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
There was woe for Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov who suffered his second successive first-round exit Tuesday, going down 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, 6-3 to Jack Sock of the United States with the 24-year-old having lost to Ivo Karlovic last year at the same stage.
Bouchard became the highest seed to fall when the number six, the golden girl of 2014 when she reached the Wimbledon final after making the semis in Paris, slumped 6-4, 6-4 to French girl Kristina Mladenovic.
There were no worries for Serena though as she hammered Czech qualifier Andrea Hlavackova 6-2, 6-3 in just 59 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier and goes on to face either Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany or American qualifier Alexa Glatch in the second round.
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the women’s champion in 2009, beat Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 and will next face 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone of Italy.
Wimbledon champion and fourth seed Petra Kvitova complained about the cool, heavy conditions after grinding past New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The 25-year-old goes on to face Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki made short work of Italy’s Karin Knapp, the fifth seed winning 6-3 6-0 and now goes on to face Germany’s Julia Goerges.
On a half-empty Court 3, Jelena Jankovic was the first loser among the seeded players in action on Tuesday. The 25th-seeded Jankovic, a three-time semi-finalist in Paris, lost 6-3, 6-4 to qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva.
In late matches on Monday, Murray’s growing love of clay blossomed with an easy first-round win.
The Briton, who played with his wedding ring tied to his shoe and improved to 11-0 since getting married to long-term partner Kim Sears by overpowering Argentine lucky loser Facundo Arguello 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
In other matches, the ever-popular Frenchman Gael Monfils, the 13th seed, defeated compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin while Croatian Borna Coric, 18, beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (10-8), 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.
On the women’s side, Sloane Stephens ended 15th seed and fellow American Venus Williams’s 18th French Open at the first-round stage with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory.
Another seed losing on Monday was No 22 Barbora Strycova.