Mon, 02 Oct 2023

PARIS, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Last year's Roland Garros finalist, Casper Ruud, made a triumphant return to Paris as the Norwegian secured his place in the clay-court major's second round for the sixth successive season.

He triumphed over Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, on Tuesday.

The fourth seed delivered 28 winners against 17 from his No. 155-ranked opponent, sealing the victory in two hours and seven minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

"It was challenging. Returning to the site of one of the best tournaments of my life, feeling the pressure to defend last year's achievements, I was a bit nervous at times," confessed Ruud, who faced off against Rafael Nadal in the final 12 months ago.

The 24-year-old is setting his sights on his maiden Grand Slam title after reaching two consecutive finals last year, including another one at the US Open where he was bested by Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.

Ruud celebrated his 10th Tour-level trophy win in Estoril in April and reached the semifinals in Rome before heading to Roland Garros. Next in line for the world No. 4 will be another qualifier, Giulio Zeppieri of Italy, who defeated Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik to progress.

Germany's Alexander Zverev, who sustained a serious ankle injury in the semifinal here last year, also celebrated a victorious comeback. The two-time French Open semifinalist endured two tie-breaks to defeat South African Lloyd Harris 7-6(6), 7-6(0), 6-1, advancing to the second round.

The 26-year-old was wheeled off the court during his semifinal match against Nadal last year and was sidelined for six months with torn ligaments.

"It's very, very nice to be back," Zverev expressed on the court. The 22nd seed will confront Slovakia's Alex Molcan next.

In the women's matches, American sixth seed Coco Gauff and Tunisian seventh seed Ons Jabeur secured victories in their opening rounds.

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