Nadal, Thiem in commanding display

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    PARIS. — Rafa Nadal began his French Open title defense with a straightforward victory on Monday, while US Open winner Dominic Thiem avoided a New York hangover by winning his opening round match with a commanding display.

    Second seed Nadal, chasing a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title, needed just over two hours to put away Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, while Thiem defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

    Thiem, seeded third, has lost to Nadal in the last two men’s finals on the Parisian clay. The pair is in the same half of the draw and could meet in the semifinals.

    FAST START: Rafa Nadal gets title bid going with big win.

    Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, however, was knocked out in the opening round for a fourth straight year at Roland Garros, with Hungarian Marton Fucsovics taking a 6-4, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-1 victory.

    In a French Open epic, Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino recovered from an opening set bagel to edge out local favorite Corentin Moutet 0-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(3), 2-6, 18-16.

    The match, which began on Sunday, was the second-longest encounter in the tournament’s history, falling 28 minutes short of the 2004 first round epic when Fabrice Santoro beat French compatriot Arnaud Clement in six hours and 33 minutes.

    In the women’s draw, Serena Williams resumed her hunt for a record-equaling 24th major title with a 7-6(2), 6-0 win over fellow American Kristie Ahn.

    Newly-crowned Strasbourg champion Elina Svitolina continued her impressive run on clay with a 7-6(2), 6-4 win over Russian Varvara Gracheva.