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French Open Day One highlights: Andy Murray, Carlos Alcaraz, Jack Draper

Sports Mole takes a closer look at the highlights of the first day of 2024 French Open action, including Andy Murray and Carlos Alcaraz's first-round fates.

The Parisien crowds packed into the courts on Sunday, as the 2024 French Open men's and women's singles main draw matches commenced, with a selection of standout contests in the former section being the order of the day.

While tennis aficionados had to wait a little longer to catch a glimpse of Rafael Nadal in action, a handful of former Grand Slam winners were on display, including an intriguing battle of the veterans between Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka.

Here, Sports Mole picks out some of the highlights from a gripping first day of Roland-Garros action.


Murray falls short against long-time foe Wawrinka

Andy Murray waves to the crowd after losing his first round match against Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka on May 26, 2024© Reuters

Many an absorbing battle had already been fought by Murray and Wawrinka, two former major winners boasting a combined age of 76 and locking horns for the 23rd - and surely the last time - at the top level.

The Swiss veteran memorably came out on top in a five-set marathon in the 2017 semi-finals, but to Britons' disappointment, Murray did not put up as much of a fight this time around, slumping to a 4-6 4-6 2-6 defeat in two hours and 19 minutes.

Wawrinka - moving exceptionally well at 39 - worked the physically inferior Murray across the court throughout and also brought his trademark down-the-line backhand to the fore, clinching his first match point with such an attempt and saving the only two break points that Murray brought up all evening.

The two long-time adversaries warmly embraced at the net and engaged in a long conversation before Murray took his leave, waving and applauding to the crowd in the manner of a man who has potentially taken to the Paris clay for the final time.


Carlos Alcaraz storms into second round

Even with his arm encased in tubigrip amid his recent injury problems, Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz banished his fitness demons in an emphatic victory over the USA's J.J. Wolf in his opening tie.

Absent from the Italian Open due to the forearm injury that hampered his Madrid Open campaign, Alcaraz reeled off a 6-1 6-2 6-1 victory with just one hour and 51 minutes on the board for his first top-level win since April 30.

Posting 27 winners compared to just 10 for his beleaguered American foe, Alcaraz had previously been forced to reel in his ferocious forehands, but he threw caution to the wind on Court Philippe-Chatrier as he struck 16 winners from that side.

Alcaraz was actually broken in his opening service game, but the world number three inevitably came fighting back all guns blazing to set up a second-round tie with qualifier Jesper de Jong, fresh from eliminating one of the British hopefuls.


Jack Draper fightback futile in shock defeat

Jack Draper reacts at the Australian Open on January 18, 2024© Reuters

Before Murray's tie with Wawrinka captured the imagination of the Roland-Garros faithful, Jack Draper flew the flag high for the Brits and was the undeniable favourite to get the job done against Dutch qualifier De Jong.

However, the aggressive 23-year-old peppered Draper with a wave of powerful groundstrokes and fended off a late surge from the Briton to prevail 7-5, 6-4, 6-7[3], 3-6, 6-3, in what was his first-ever main-draw match at the French Open.

De Jong's five-hour and 31-minute success prolonged Draper's recent dismay on clay, extending his losing streak on the dirt to three matches, and the 22-year-old is still waiting for his maiden singles victory at the French Open.

For De Jong, though, the Dutchman reaped the rewards of converting nine of his 10 break points - as well as benefitting from nine double faults from Draper - and a second-round slog with Alcaraz is quite the reward.


Naomi Osaka comes through in three

Ending a two-year absence from Roland-Garros, four-time major winner Naomi Osaka - using a protected ranking to enter this year's tournament - earned her first Grand Slam win of the year with a gritty success over Italy's Lucia Bronzetti.

The current world number 134 did not let a second-set blip get to her as she triumphed 6-1 4-6 7-5 in just over two hours, counteracting an eye-watering 45 unforced errors with 30 winners and six aces.

Osaka roared into a 4-0 advantage in the deciding set but let her seemingly unassailable lead slip through her grasp as Bronzetti earned both breaks back, but the Italian ultimately ran out of steam, fatally losing serve in the 11th game before Osaka converted her first match point.

The Japanese admitted that she was in the dark about her potential second-round opponent before taking to the clay, but unless Frenchwoman Leolia Jeanjean can spring a monumental surprise tomorrow, Osaka will be tasked with trying to end Iga Swiatek's title defence next up.

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