By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - An eagerly-anticipated French Open began with a brisk Sunday morning workout for last year's women's runner-up Simona Halep as day one's star turn Roger Federer waited in the wings.
Romanian Halep, seeded three, made hard work of 91st-ranked Russian Evgeniya Rodina, huffing and puffing her way to a 7-5 6-4 victory as fans basked in court Philippe Chatrier sunshine.
With men's top seed and favorite Novak Djokovic and nine-times champion Rafa Nadal not on the schedule, second seed Federer, champion in 2009, was the first of the men's contenders to dig their shoes into the Parisian clay.
The evergreen Swiss, who has not missed a grand slam tournament this century, was up against Colombia's Alejandro Falla, a player he almost lost to in the Wimbledon first round in 2010.
A plethora of home players were in action with ever-popular Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded 14, completing a light opening Sunday program against Swedish qualifier Christian Lindell.
A couple of men's seeds posted easy wins.
Germany's Philip Kohlschreiber, beaten by Andy Murray in a marathon match year, dropped only three games against Japan's Go Soeda, one of a Roland Garros record 39 players aged 30 and over in the 128-strong men's draw.
Spain's Roberto Bautista-Agut beat German Florian Mayer, also in straight sets.
Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny's tournament did not last long. He quit when trailing Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur 6-2 6-1 -- smashing his racket into his forehead several times as his frustration boiled over.
Halep, beaten by Maria Sharapova in last year's final, let her guard down too many times for comfort against Russian Rodina as she was made to work hard for her place in the second round where she will play Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
She bungled a service game when 5-4 up in the opening set, allowing Rodina to level, but the Russian then double-faulted to drop serve and Halep clinched the opener with an ace.
Rodina refused to wilt though and Halep was relieved to avoid any real headaches.
"It was a tough match, because it was first round and always is difficult to start the tournament," she told reporters.
"Yeah, I did make some easy mistakes, but it's normal and I accept that. Next round I will be better, for sure."
(editing by Justin Palmer)