PARIS (Reuters) - Top seed Simona Halep reached the second round of the French Open a day later than expected and not without a fright as she recovered from a slow start to beat American Alison Riske 2-6 6-1 6-1 on Wednesday.
The Romanian world number one stayed under wraps until the fourth day of the tournament after her opening match was cancelled on Tuesday evening because of a schedule backlog.
It appeared some of Tuesday’s rain had got into the works as she lost the opening five games, sprinkling unforced errors across Court Philippe Chatrier, but there was no sign of panic and her game eventually clicked into gear.
The 83rd-ranked Riske won three games in her previous claycourt meeting with the twice Roland Garros runner-up but broke serve three times in taking the opening set.
Halep quickly reasserted her authority though with the depth and power of her groundstrokes stopping Riske in her tracks — conceding just 14 points in sets two and three.
“It was good that I came back so strong,” Halep, beaten in last year’s final by Jelena Ostapenko, told reporters.
“I just wanted to relax my arms, because I was moving pretty well also at the beginning, but my arm was very tight and I couldn’t hit the ball as I wanted.
“But then it was much easier, and I felt really well in
the end of the match.”
Halep was shaking her head in the early stages as her usually rock-solid groundstrokes misfired.
Riske took full advantage with some eye-catching winners and took the first set when Halep hammered a backhand long, before the Romanian found her range and turned the tables.
Halep will be back in action on Thursday against American wildcard Taylor Townsend.
“I need to play like today, but just the second set and the third sets!” Halep said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris and John Stonestreet