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Sabalenka, Rybakina make winning starts in Paris

Aryna Sabalenka has launched her bid for a maiden French Open title and second grand slam crown of the year with a breezy 6-1 6-2 first-round win over Russian teenager Erika Andreeva that will serve as a warning to her main rivals.

The 26-year-old, who successfully defended her Australian Open crown earlier this year, arrived at Roland Garros as a top contender after strong results in the European clay swing and wasted little time to get going on Court Philippe Chatrier.

After breaking in the fourth game when 19-year-old Andreeva double-faulted, Sabalenka raced to a 5-1 lead and closed out the opening set.

Sabalenka pounced on world No.100 Andreeva's serve again to grab the lead in the second set, last year's semi-finalist surging ahead and wrapping it up in 68 minutes.

The second seed is attempting to become the first woman to triumph at Melbourne and Paris in the same year since American Serena Williams achieved the feat in 2015.

"I'm just trying to separate myself from all those facts. I mean, I know that if I'll be able to focus on myself and I'll be able to fight for every point and try to find solution in each game I will be able to win these big tournaments," she said.

"I just try to take it step by step."

Earlier, Elena Rybakina recovered from a rocky start, and poor health, to comfortably beat Belgian Greet Minnen 6-2 6-3.

Elena Rybakina.
Elena Rybakina skips across court during her victory over Greet Minnen on the Roland Garros clay. (EPA PHOTO)

Rybakina was unable to defend her Italian Open title because of sickness and after losing serve in the opening game at Roland Garros to go 2-0 down, it looked like the former Wimbledon champ might be in for a troublesome morning.

She also had the memory of having to withdraw from the French Open last year before her third-round match.

"Last year I missed this tournament and it was really hard but really happy to be back and compete here," Rybakina told the Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd.

"I'm really happy, thank you so much for coming guys, it's been an amazing atmosphere."

After Minnen's fast start, fourth seed Rybakina settled down to take the next six games and win the first set, and the Kazakh began the second in the same fashion as she cruised into a 4-0 lead before easing to victory.

Rybakina is the only player to beat Iga Swiatek on clay this year, defeating the world No.1 and three-time French Open winner on her way to the Stuttgart title in April.

The third straight rain-hit day of the tournament began with a big outpouring of love for Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who bid adieu after her opening loss to seventh seed Zheng Qinwen.

The holder of the Open era women's record for consecutive grand slam main draw appearances with 69, Cornet had previously said she would retire after the tournament.

Elsewhere, tenth-seeded Daria Kasatkina began her campaign with a 7-5 6-1 win over Magdalena Frech.

Sloane Stephens, the 2018 finalist, was swept aside in under an hour while 26th-seeded Brit Katie Boultier lost in three sets to Paula Badosa.

Former semi-finalist and 14th seed Madison Keys, who won the Strasbourg International on Saturday, moved on along with 19th seed Victoria Azarenka.