Fresh from winning the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome, Halep arrived in Paris as favourite and top seed for the final grand slam of the year.
And she marked her 29th birthday with a 6-4, 6-0 triumph under the new roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
French Open 2020: Halep lands birthday win in chilly Paris
“The perfect present was that I won, of course,” said the 2018 champion. “It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday, so 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.
“I will speak with my very close ones and loved ones. Just that. Nothing special. After the tournament, I will [celebrate properly].”
While Halep, who now faces compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, had the luxury of an enclosed arena the cold weather outside caused issues for others on a day that saw Venus Williams make an early exit.
It was a chilly day in the French capital and few people were more bothered by the conditions than Victoria Azarenka, who donned a jacket and leggings for her match with Danka Kovinic.
The former world number one triumphed 6-1, 6-2 but she left the court three games into the first set claiming it was “too cold”, a consequence of the tournament taking place four months later than planned.
“I think my opponent first of all slipped in the third game, so I think she was also feeling a little bit uncomfortable,” said Azarenka.
“And I just asked like when my grip is getting wet in between points, are we going to still continue to play?
“And then [the official] told me that if I’m willing to wait a little bit longer while the drizzle stops, because the rain was supposed to increase, and I said absolutely not because I don’t see a point of sitting on the court when it’s eight degrees.
“I at the same time asked my opponent if she wants to wait on the court or she wants to go off court, and she said she doesn’t want to wait on the court.
“So, I’m not going to waste my time sitting there and getting cold.”
KONTA DUMPED OUT BY GAUFF
Coco Gauff dumped out ninth seed Johanna Konta as the 16-year-old produced a fine display.
Gauff came through in straight sets, beating the Briton 6-3 6-3 to secure a second-round showdown with qualifier Martina Trevisan.
It constitutes a shock premature departure for Konta, who reached the semi-finals in 2019.
VENUS DONE WITH 2020
Venus Williams declaring she is “done” with 2020 is a statement with which many will be able to identify.
The American veteran, a 2002 finalist at this slam, was beaten 6-4, 6-4 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who will now face Azarenka.
Asked if she had any plays to play again this year, the 40-year-old replied: “I’m going home from here. I’m done. If there is somewhere to play, I won’t be there.”
One player who will have at least one more match this year is Eugenie Bouchard, who overcame Anna Kalinskaya 6-4, 6-4.
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