Alexei Popyrin celebrates his victory. Picture: Getty
Alexei Popyrin celebrates his victory. Picture: Getty

Cool Aussie teen silences French crowd

IMPOSSIBLY composed in an era of brats, Australian prodigy Alexei Popyrin credits breakthrough French Open success to his docile temperament.

The 19-year-old survived a Roland Garros baptism of fire, outlasting flashy local Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-3 7-6 (12-10) 6-3 on Sunday night (AEST).

As much as Popyrin advanced because of nerveless serving under pressure, the 2017 French Open junior champion refused to lose his cool in the court 14 cauldron.

"I'd say I have always had a good temperament," Popyrin said after weathering Humbert.

"On tough points, I have always tried to keep a cool head, and I've always managed to do that.

"That's something that's really helped me a lot, and I hope it will stay."

Contesting only his second major - and his first at Roland Garros - Popyrin weathered a torrid barrage from Humbert before asserting his quality.

Based in Spain, Popyrin landed 38 winners and 12 aces to frank the form which carried him into the Australian Open's third round.

A product of Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou's Nice academy, Popyrin has endured plenty of ups and downs since January.

Popyrin overcome a raucous crowd. Picture: Getty
Popyrin overcome a raucous crowd. Picture: Getty

"I think I have made a couple of gains," he said.

"I just feel more and more comfortable.

"I'm getting more and more comfortable playing on this level.

"Had a couple bad results here and there since Aussie Open, but I'm just glad to be on the right track right now and glad to have gotten past my first round."

The Sydney-born baseliner will next play Serb 31st seed Laslo Djere in search of a third-round berth.

Popyrin won the junior singles here in 2017, becoming only the fifth Australian lift the title behind Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe and Phil Dent.

Popyrin collected $140,783 for his first-round win - the second largest payday of his career after the $155,000 he earned by reaching the Australian Open's third round.

Four Australians take to the court on day two - Ash Barty, Sam Stosur, Astra Sharma and Alex de Minaur.

Jordan Thompson received a boost when he was spared a meeting with Canadian 25th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime withdrew with groin soreness.

Thompson will instead face lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates winning against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego during their first round match of the French Open. Picture: AP Photo/Michel Euler
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates winning against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego during their first round match of the French Open. Picture: AP Photo/Michel Euler

FEDERER THE STAR ATTRACTION

Perfection has long been Roger Federer's defining symbol.

No contemporary player has been as enduringly flawless as the immaculate Swiss.

But, as the maestro's career draws to a close, Federer has no real interest in conjuring a departing miracle.

Back at the French Open for the first time in four years, Federer has quickly become the star act at Roland Garros again.

Pitted against Lorenzo Sonego, the 37-year-old turned back the clock with a nostalgic reminder of under-rated claycourt skills in a measured 6-2 6-4 6-4 win.

Nobody, perhaps with the exception of the man himself, expects Federer to win a 21st major - and second French crown - this fortnight.

And that's perfectly fine with Federer.

He has set no formal retirement date, no pressing obsessions, an irony not lost on a man known for methodical planning and searing ambition.

Instead, he is prepared to let the future unfold without a skerrick of pressure - another quirk for a player who has spent more time under the spotlight than any other.

"I play because I love tennis not because it needs to end with a (perfect) situation," he said.

"I think that's why I am still here today.

"I never fell out of love with the sport."

The win was the 1203rd of Federer's career, and his 67th triumph at Roland Garros since losing on debut to Pat Rafter here in 1999.

That 20-year span speaks only partially to Federer's durability.

The 2009 French champion is contesting his 76th major - a figure unmatched among male players.

Federer's return to the most chic tournament of the four majors has swelled French chests - and rightly so.

The Parisians, like the rest of the world, are in no rush to farewell the man who epitomises perfection.

And he is in no hurry to leave, either.

"The reception I got today was crazy, was really nice to see a full stadium for a first round like this," he beamed.

"It was a beauty. So I'm very, very happy."

Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates the win. Picture: AP
Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates the win. Picture: AP

GREEK FREAK CRUISES THROUGH

Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas moved into the French Open second round on Sunday with a comfortable straight-sets win over Maximilian Marterer on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The 20-year-old sixth seed, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open earlier this year, brushed aside German Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

Tsitsipas raced into a 2-0 lead and edged a third-set tie-break to see off an opponent who reached the fourth round in Paris last year.

"It was a difficult first match... In the tie-break I managed to play like I did in the first two sets," said Tsitsipas, who was playing on the Roland Garros show court for the first time.

"These are the moments we're practising for and dreaming of, I'm really happy to play here." Tsitsipas will next face either Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran or Bolivia's Hugo Dellien as he looks to reach the third round for the first time.