Kyrgios lights up damp opening day at French Open

Sun May 22, 2016 12:46pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - Australian Nick Kyrgios did his best to enliven a damp and dismal Parisian day with some eye-catching play and colorful language as the French Open began without part of the usual furniture on Sunday.

The volatile 17th seed mainly let his racket do the talking during an impressive 7-6(6) 7-6(6) 6-4 defeat of Italian debutant Marco Cecchinato, although he did receive a code violation for his language in the first set.

Women's 10th seed Petra Kvitova was another early starter and was nearly sent packing in the opening skirmish on Philippe Chatrier Court, the twice Wimbledon champion coming within a game of defeat by Montenegro's Danka Kovinic.

She eventually won 6-2 4-6 7-5 in two hours 16 minutes watched by ticket holders wrapped up under colorful anoraks and with umbrellas at the ready.

Huge lines of fans formed outside Roland Garros as security was visibly beefed up in light of last year's terror attacks in the city, and once inside the historic grounds were hardly the idyllic setting for such a sporting highlight.

Three courts, numbers seven, nine and 11, which used to flank Chatrier, have been replaced by an enormous hole in the ground -- the start of a controversial re-development that will included a new stadium court by 2020.

Leafing through their programmes they will also have noticed Roger Federer absent from the men's draw for the first time since 1998 after the Swiss 17-times grand slam champion withdrew because of a nagging back injury.

There was still plenty to admire, though, in a scheduled 32-match aperitif to the arrival of the top seeds on Monday.   Continued...

Nick Kyrgios returns the ball. Roland Garros - Nick Kyrgios of Australia v Marco Cecchinato of Italy - Paris, France - 22/05/16. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier