Djokovic announced last weekend that he had persuaded eight-time grand slam champion Agassi to coach him at Roland Garros. Djokovic split from his long-time team last month as he sought answers to the slump that has seen him struggle since adding a fourth consecutive grand slam title here last year.
Agassi remained largely impassive throughout the two hours and 27 minutes of the contest, although he did get a surprise during the third set when Djokovic’s former super coach Boris Becker turned up in the player box. Djokovic perhaps made heavier weather of it than he should have against 77th-ranked Granollers, taking only eight of his 20 break points and dropping serve four times himself.
Eight of his break points came with Granollers serving at 3-5 in the second set but, although the Spaniard held on, Djokovic made no mistake on his ninth chance. The world number two has played himself into some decent form over the clay season, reaching the final in Rome last weekend, and this was a solid if unspectacular performance.
Rafael Nadal followed Djokovic into the second round as he began his quest for a 10th French Open title with a straightforward 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Benoit Paire.
After racing through the first set, things became a little sticky for Nadal in the second against his unpredictable French opponent. Paire led 3-1 and had chances to move 5-3 ahead but could not take them. He then called for the doctor at the start of the third set and the match was over inside two hours.
In the second round Nadal will play Dutchman Robin Haase.
Garbine Muguruza survived a tricky first hurdle to open her French Open title defence with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against the 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone.
Muguruza and Schiavone are two of the three former champions in the draw along with Svetlana Kuznetsova. Schiavone is 36 and announced in January this will be her last year on the tour. But she remains a difficult customer on clay and booked her place in the draw here with a title in Bogota last month. Muguruza is the latest female player to burst out of the pack only to struggle under the weight of expectation. Instead of taking over the mantle from Serena Williams, as some leading names predicted when she defeated the American in the final last year at Roland Garros, Muguruza has failed to reach a single final since.
She at least arrived in Paris with some confidence in the bank after making the semi-finals in Rome last week before pulling out with a neck injury. The Spaniard made a fine start to this match, winning the opening three games, but Schiavone pulled back to 3-2 before a lengthy delay after a spectator was taken ill in the crowd.
On the resumption, Muguruza won 12 successive points to take the set and then went an early break up in the second.
Schiavone again responded but Muguruza broke to lead 5-4 and came through a long final game to set up another tricky match against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, one of the form players of the clay season.
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