PARIS, France - No.15 seed Belinda Bencic was among the winners on the first day of play at the French Open on Sunday, needing just over an hour to see off French wildcard Jessika Ponchet in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4.
After two years away from the French Open in injury-plagued seasons, Bencic returned to Paris last year and claimed a dramatic first-round victory in which she saved match points, but there was no such saga for the No.15 seed on Sunday.
Bencic cruised through the opening set against the wildcard, ranked World No.187, after winning the first four games, though she did need to rally from a break down in the second to seal the match in straight sets.
"I felt I played really well in my first round. I always find it very difficult to play French people in France, because I feel like they're doing their best here," Bencic said.
"It was very difficult, but I player for the first time on No.1 Court, and I felt great."
While it was a victory for a former French Open junior champion in Bencic, 2009 women's singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova fell at the first hurdle.
The Russian, candid on the struggles she's faced in her return from her recent injury layoff, was defeated by Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova in just over an hour, 6-4, 6-2.
The 29-year-old Kucova, a junior Grand Slam winner herself back at the 2007 US Open, advances to face No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Madison Brengle in straight sets.
Other winners around the grounds on the first day of the French Open included No.31 seed Petra Martic, who served notice with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Ons Jabeur in just over an hour to be the first winner of the day; and unseeded Swede Johanna Larsson, Czech Marketa Vondrousova, Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova, and German Laura Siegemund.
"I faced Siegemund a couple of times, and I feel like she's playing very different - with more variety than other players," Bencic assesed of her second-round foe. "It will be, for sure, an interesting match."
The Swede downed Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets to advance to a second-round meeting with Garbiñe Muguruza, while former World No.27 Siegemund downed teenaged qualifier Sofya Zhuk for her first-ever main draw win in Paris.
One of the most in-form players entering the French Open, Vondrousova came through a tricky two-setter against Acapulco champion Wang Yafan, 6-4, 6-3, to set up an all-teenaged clash against Russian Anastasia Potapova, conquerer of Angelique Kerber in other first-round action.
Kozlova, author of a famous upset of defending champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round on Court Philippe Chatrier 12 months ago, edged American qualifier Bernarda Pera in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6(3).