PARIS - Easy to understand why Andy Roddick never enjoyed playing on red clay all that much.
First and foremost, the footing is tricky as can be. The soft courts take his booming serves and forehands down a notch, too. Put simply, his game is built for hard or grass courts. As if that weren't enough, he arrived at this French Open having played only 16 matches in a season interrupted by injuries to his right hamstring and right ankle.
If Roddick was tempted to sit out Roland Garros altogether — or tempted to use his health or rust as an excuse for playing poorly — he did not. The 26th-seeded American, once ranked No. 1 and once a Grand Slam champion, gave it a shot and came up short Sunday, exiting in a major tournament's opening round for the first time since 2007, and at the same venue.
French Open (May 27-June 10)
Rain or shine, clay or mud, Sunday or Monday, Rafael Nadal rules Roland Garros. The man they call "Rafa" won his record seventh French Open title on Monday, returning a day after getting rained out to put the finishing touches on a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Novak Djokovic, and deny Djokovic in his own quest for history — the "Novak Slam." Full story
His 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 loss to 88th-ranked Nicolas Mahut at the French Open dropped Roddick's record to 7-10 this season, 0-4 on clay. Of the seven previous major title winners in action on Day 1 in Paris, only Roddick was beaten.
"Wasn't playing really well. I move just horrendously out here. My first step is just so bad on this stuff," Roddick said. "I feel like I'm always shuffling or hopping or not stopping or something."
None of the top three men played on Day 1. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be on court Monday, while Rafael Nadal is slated to begin his attempt for a record-breaking seventh French Open title on Tuesday.
Ninth-seeded Juan Del Potro made his way into the second round despite some problems with his left knee, beating Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1.
Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion, beat Jonathan Dasnieres de Veigy of France 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. The 32-year-old Spaniard is one of 37 men in this year's draw that is 30 or older, an Open era record for Grand Slam tournaments.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the highest-seeded player in action on Sunday at No. 5, also advanced. The Frenchman defeated Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Fabio Fognini of Italy was the first man to reach the second round Sunday, beating Adrian Mannarino of France 6-0, 7-5, 6-1. No. 21 Marin Cilic of Croatia was next, defeating Daniel Munoz-De la Nava of Spain 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Mahut hit more aces than Roddick, 13-8, and broke him seven times, including in the last game on Court Suzanne Lenglen, an arena the American is not fond of.
Roddick only once made it as far as the fourth round in 10 trips to Roland Garros, in 2009. He's lost in the first round five times now. And there's a reason the guy never saw success at the French Open the way he did at the U.S. Open (champion), Wimbledon (runner-up three times) or Australian Open (semifinalist four times).
"I just feel like I get exposed too easily out here. I feel like I'm not set on most shots. If you're not set, it's tough to get much of a flow going. When you don't have much of a flow going, it lends itself to sporadic play. It all adds up," Roddick said. "You can't fake it out here. ... It's tough to lie out here."
Back on tour last week after two months away, Roddick was asked a handful of times about his physical state and recovery.
Watching Rafa Nadal churn his way through the claycourt season over the past few weeks, it seems nothing much has changed since his French Open triumph a year ago despite a lengthy injury layoff.
Scenes from Down Under
Check out the best images from the 2013 Australian Open.
The best of Wimbledon
The best images from the Grand Slam tournament at the All-England Club.
French Open 2012: Top 10 Shots
June 10, 2012: John McEnroe, Ted Robinson, and Mary Carillo look back at the Top Ten best moments from the 2012 French Open.