Roger Federer marked his return to the French Open after missing the past three championships in fine style on Sunday afterning, with the third seed making light work of Lorenzo Sonego on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The Swiss had not played at this tournament since a quarterfinal defeat to compatriot Stan Wawrinka in 2015, and had only played a handful of clay matches this season as he returned to the surface for the first time since losing in Rome in 2016, though there were no signs of rustiness today.
Sonego is a clay court specialist, reaching the last eight in Monte Carlo, and at times did threaten the 20-time Grand Slam champion today, though the Swiss ultimately prevailed 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in just an hour and 41 minutes to kickstart his campaign.
Federer eases past Sonego to reach round two
It has been a decade since Federer won this title to complete the career Grand Slam, and whilst it is perhaps unlikely he will repeat that success in 2019, he tennis was positive enough to suggest that could well still be in action during the latter stages of the tournament.
The Swiss was not slow out of the blocks, breaking Sonego in the opening game, and broke again to seal a quick 3-0 lead. The Italian was able to get more into the encounter after this, applying a little pressure on Federer’s serve and holding both his following service games, but the world number three never seemed too threatened, holding comfortable to take the opening set in just 26 minutes.
The second set started in a similar fashion, with Federer breaking in a tight game to begin with, before racing through another three games to lead 4-0. After applying a little pressure in the first set, Sonego did break through here, saving a break point before breaking himself to get more into contention. However, Federer recovered after his slight wobble, holding twice more to seal set two.
Having quickly been on the back foot in the previous two sets, Sonego started the third set in more solid fashion, saving two break points on his way to leading the Swiss 3-2. However, Federer himself was never threatened on his own serve, and struck at exactly the right time, breaking at 4-4, and comfortably serving the match out to secure a fine first round victory.
The second and third sets were not too easy for Federer, with Sonego certainly improved from the first set, though overall it was a fine performance from the third seed, spending less than two hours on court and hitting 36 winners to just 15 unforced errors.. He will face German lucky loser Oscar Otte next.