The French Open kicked off Sunday afternoon at Roland Garros and already there are upsets, snubs, five-set matches, and Djokovic making a new friend.
Biggest Talking Point
Nadal began the defence of his title on Court Suzanne Lenglen, not Philippe Chatrier. The women’s defending champion, Serena Williams, got to play on the main court which makes this snub fairly confusing. American John Isner described the snub as “really bizarre” and joked that Robby Ginepri, Nadal’s opponent, got up at 8am to practice on Chatrier.
It didn’t bother Nadal in the least as he beat Ginepri 6-0, 6-3, 6-0. In the post-match press conference, he said,
“Doesn’t matter if it’s Chatrier or Lenglen or another court, be around here in Roland Garros always gonna be great.”
Top Guns Cruise Through
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic cruised into the second round. Williams began the defense of her title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over France’s Alize Lim. There was a bit of shakiness at the end as she needed 5 match points before wrapping things up. Williams will also not like the fact that she racked up 36 unforced errors – 24 more than her opponent.
Serena’s potential quarter-final opponent and last year’s finalist, Maria Sharapova came through a rain delayed match against Ksenia Pervak. Sharapova had little trouble, winning 6-1, 6-2 in an hour. Up next for the Russian is Tsvetana Pironkova, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.
Novak also had an easy day at the office coming through in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, against Portugal’s Joao Sousa. The highlight of this match was Djokovic sharing his umbrella and a drink with a ball boy during a rain delay. This exchange probably gained the Serbian a few more fans.
Au Revoir Stan
Australian Open champion, Stanislas Wawrinka (or Stan as he’s now known as) said “au revoir” to Roland Garros as he was beaten in 4 sets by Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Wawrinka becomes the highest seed to lose in the first round since 2007, when 3rd seed Andy Roddick was knocked out by Igor Andreev. Ironically, Wawrinka was also seeded #3. The loss might not be surprising for some as Garcia-Lopez is a clay court specialist and has been known to cause upsets on the tour. What was surprising was the number of unforced errors from the Swiss – 62, with many of them coming from his favoured backhand side.
Maybe Stan should go back to being Stanislas.
Martin Klizan knocked out No.9 seed Kei Nishikori in straight sets, 7-6, 6-1, 6-2. Looking at their seedings, it looks like an upset but it’s not. Nishikori has been hampered by a hip injury since early May, which forced him to retire during the Madrid final against Rafael Nadal and withdraw from the Italian Open the following week. After the match, Nishikori summed up his injury woes in simple terms – “It sucks.”
Newbie Vs. Veteran
Grand Slam debutante, Facundo Bagnis saw off French veteran Julien Benneteau in a five-set, 4 and a half hour match on Court 1. The final set alone lasted a huge 144 minutes. 24-year-old Bagnis came through qualifying to play in the main draw. What usually happens after a match of this length is that the winner usually puts up a terrible fight in the next match and ends up losing. Let’s see will Bagnis go the same way.
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena.
Coverage continues on Eurosport and ITV4.