Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic breeze to French Open 2nd round

PARIS -- World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz issued an early warning to his rivals as he began his quest for a second Grand Slam title by easing past Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open first round Monday.

Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic launched his campaign for a record-breaking 23rd men's Grand Slam singles title with a no-nonsense 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (1) first-round victory over debutant Aleksandar Kovacevic.

Veteran Fabio Fognini of Italy, meanwhile, rolled back the years to take down 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the first round as the Canadian became the first top-10 player in the men's draw to exit the tournament.

Alcaraz, 20, has already cemented his status as a top contender on the biggest stages and is one of the favorites to take on the mantle of his Spanish compatriot and 14-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, who is absent this year with a hip issue.

"I feel the love from the people," Alcaraz said. "I don't know if they are Nadal fans or not, but I felt the energy from the crowd. I felt the love, and it was great to feel that."

Alcaraz, who missed the Australian Open in January due to a leg injury, was impressive in his first Grand Slam match since his US Open triumph last year and was ruthless as he raced through the opening set.

A fourth break of the contest early in the second set handed Alcaraz, who won the clay-court tournaments in Barcelona and Madrid, the advantage again before the 159th-ranked Cobolli finally got on the board in his main draw debut at the majors.

Up next for Alcaraz is Japan's Taro Daniel who eased past Australian Christopher O'Connell 6-0, 6-2, 6-4.

Djokovic, a two-time French Open champion, breezed through the first two sets before encountering resistance from Kovacevic, 24, of the U.S., whose lack of experience then showed in the tiebreak on the world's biggest clay court.

Djokovic ended the contest with a sizzling service return on his first match point and will next face Hungarian journeyman Marton Fucsovics for a place in the third round.

"It's always a pleasure to come back here, one of the best tournaments in the world," said Djokovic, who made his Roland Garros debut in 2005.

"I'm very motivated to go far here, all the way I hope."

Djokovic did not have an ideal buildup to the clay-court Grand Slam, missing the Madrid Masters and being eliminated in the last eight at the Italian Open in Rome, but he looked in good form in wind conditions.

Stan Wawrinka also made his way into the second round after the 2015 champion beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-7 (2), 1-6, 6-4 in an epic battle lasting more than four hours.

Zhizhen Zhang later became the first Chinese man in the Open Era to win a main draw match at the French Open as Dusan Lajovic retired while down 6-1, 4-1.

"That's quite special," said Zhang, a 26-year-old from Shanghai who is ranked 71st.

"I mean, we have so many [people] waiting for us to get the first win," Zhang said. "Just step [by] step, and then we can get a lot of wins."

Jannik Sinner also reached the second round, dazzling under the lights as the eighth seed swatted aside Frenchman Alexandre Muller 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. He will next take on Daniel Altmaier.

Also Monday, Benoit Paire kept his cool but could not avoid yet another defeat in the main tour when he was beaten in five sets by British 14th seed Cameron Norrie.

The world No. 149 Paire, who was given a wild card, was up a break in the decider but could not close out the match. Norrie came back from down 4-2 in the deciding set to prevail 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and reach the second round.

And Canadian 26th seed Denis Shapovalov overcame American Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 in a roller-coaster match.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.