French Open: Djokovic, Agassi partnership off to winning start

    Story highlights

    • Djokovic beats Marcel Granollers in straight sets
    • Last loss in first round at major came in 2006
    • Rafael Nadal also wins in straight sets
    • Defending women's champ Garbine Muguruza beats former champ

    (CNN)So far, so good in the Novak Djokovic-Andre Agassi partnership.

    Okay, so it has only been one match but the Serb ensured a solid start to the high-profile collaboration when he beat Marcel Granollers 6-3 6-4 6-2 in the first round of the French Open.
      Indeed, it was just about the perfect start for the defending champion. He was tested -- playing nearly two-and-a-half hours -- but also went through in straight sets on a hot, blustery day in southwest Paris. The conditions countered last year's first week -- nippy, wet and generally unpleasant for all involved.
      Djokovic turned to the retired eight-time grand slam winner on the eve of the year's second major after admitting he had been in "crisis" for much of the last 10 months.
      He said he had come away "impressed" after reading Agassi's controversial autobiography, 'Open,' in which the American revealed he failed a drug test for crystal meth -- then lied to the ATP about how it got into his system -- never liked tennis growing up and discussed his failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields.
      "So many things at the time, when I personally read it, were quite shocking," Djokovic told reporters. "But what I was very impressed about was his honesty and transparency and willingness to share his life's experience that one human being goes through.
      "Even though sometimes the top athletes are regarded as perfect people, flawless people, it's not like that. We all have our flaws.
      "And what I think made him different from maybe others is that he was willing to share those flaws and really allowing people to understand that we all go through those moments."
      After becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four straight majors -- he capped the achievement at Roland Garros 12 months ago to complete the career grand slam -- Djokovic slumped badly by his standards. He surrendered his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray, admitting to a loss of motivation and "private" issues that he hasn't elaborated on.
      Djokovic on his 'slump' and Roland Garros
      Djokovic on his 'slump' and Roland Garros

        JUST WATCHED

        Djokovic on his 'slump' and Roland Garros

      MUST WATCH

      Djokovic on his 'slump' and Roland Garros 02:21
      His reign at the Australian Open came to an end in abrupt fashion in January, bundled aside by wildcard Denis Istomin in the second round, and days before naming Agassi as his new coach parted company with virtually his entire entourage including longtime, influential coach Marian Vajda.
      Agassi looked on from the player's box on court Philippe Chatrier on Monday, smiling when his charge won an epic 38-shot rally in the first set. He was later greeted by Djokovic's former co-coach, Boris Becker, another retired multiple grand slam winner.
      Andre Agassi (left), new coach of Novak Djokovic, speaks with Boris Becker on day two at Roland Garros
      "It's obviously the first match that he has watched, courtside from the box, role of a coach, so it was very interesting for me to experience and feel what I'm going to feel on the court when that's happening," Djokovic said.
      There was never any real danger of Djokovic being upset in the first round of a grand slam for the first time since the 2006 Australian Open -- Granollers, who likes a grunt or two, had won a combined 10 games in their three prior encounters -- yet Djokovic needed nine set points to put away the Spaniard in the second set.
      Ever the gracious sportsman, Djokovic exchanged a high five with Granollers when the latter struck a winner off a fine drop shot in the third.
      He'll no doubt be exchanging high fives -- at the least -- with Agassi if he repeats at Roland Garros and becomes the first man in the Open Era to win each of the majors twice. However Agassi is expected to leave Paris after the first week due to prior commitments.
      To win again, Djokovic will likely have to go through Rafael Nadal, the tournament favorite. They are in the same half of the draw.
      Chasing a "Decima" or 10th crown at the French Open, Nadal also progressed in straight sets over a less predictable foe, Benoit Paire, 6-1 6-4 6-1.
      Paire owns a world-class backhand -- not to mention racket throw -- but consistency isn't a strength. The Frenchman failed to protect a break lead in the second set.
      While Djokovic embarks on a new chapter with Agassi, Nadal, in one way, is closing a chapter with his main coach, his uncle Toni, at Roland Garros: He isn't expected to travel with Nadal in 2018. Rather, he'll spend more time training younger players at Nadal's academy in Mallorca, Spain.

      Muguruza avoids upset

      A day after Angelique Kerber became the first No. 1 player to lose in the first round of the French Open in the Open Era, defending champion Garbine Muguruza avoided the upset bug when Nadal's compatriot defeated 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone 6-2 6-4.
      With an ankle injury to the in-form Simona Halep and the absence of the pregnant Serena Williams, the women's field appears to be wide open.
      One of the contenders, France's Kristina Mladenovic, barely survived the first round. A back injury troubled the 13th seed but she rallied to defeat American Jennifer Brady 3-6 6-3 9-7 in three hours.
      Karolina Pliskova didn't enjoy a fruitful clay-court swing but the Czech is -- unlike some of her seeded colleagues -- healthy and the second-seed dispatched China's Zheng Saisai 7-5 6-2.