Things looked dicey for a moment, but No. 1 seed Simona Halep bounced back and eventually cruised past Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-4, 6-0, in her Roland Garros opener on her 29th birthday.
Halep had never played Sorribes Tormo before. After the two traded breaks in the fourth and fifth games of the match, the Spaniard broke again, and looked to be in command of the first set serving at 4-2, 30-15. But Halep came alive from there, winning 15 of the next 17 points to sneak out the set. She would eventually win the last 10 games of the match to close it out after an hour and 22 minutes.
"At the beginning I just wanted to be aggressive and to hit the balls everywhere, but she was so strong on the legs and she didn't miss at all," Halep said. "Also, her ball is coming a little bit higher with a lot of topspin, so it's not easy to play from up to the shoulder. But then I just started to open the court better, to go slower and to work for every ball, which I did very well. And drop shots."
Halep has now won 15 matches in a row, having gone 4-0 to win Dubai in February, 5-0 to win Prague in August, 5-0 to capture the Premier 5 title in Rome a week ago, and going 1-0 so far in Paris. It's the longest winning streak of her career, besting the 14-match run she went on in 2015, which brought her titles at Dubai and Indian Wells and to the semifinals of Miami, where she fell to Serena Williams.
The Romanian was asked about the unique conditions at Roland Garros this year.
"Well, I was very honored to open actually this roof, to be the first women's match. It was much better, because we could play and the rain didn't stop us at all," she said. "It was pretty cold, because it's cold outside. But also we were very away from the wind, so we could play normally.
"Even if it was a little heavy, because of the weather, it was good conditions to play in this rainy day."
And how special was it to win a match at a Grand Slam on her birthday for the first time?
"The perfect present was that I won today, of course," Halep said. "It was a really special day playing at Roland Garros on my birthday. It's going to be pretty unique, maybe forever. I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottle of water. Just enjoying the time. I will speak with my very close ones and loved ones. Just that. Nothing special. After the tournament, I will."
Up next for Halep will be an all-Romanian match-up against Irina-Camelia Begu, who battled for two and a half hours to beat Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann out on Court 11, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Halep has won all seven previous meetings with Begu, losing just one set.