First round results

May 25, 2010

The beginning of Grand Slams tell you a lot. For one, it tells you that anything can happen to any player of any stature. Secondly, those who you thought may be ‘in with an inside chance’, often end up at the wayside. Third, the first round begins to shape everyone’s ideas as to who are the possible quarter-finalists, semi-finalists and finalists.

Nothing was different in the first round of the French Open this year. Although the future of the site of the French Open is under question, this year Rolland Garros was glorious under the baking French sun as it started on Sunday and continued with round one on Monday.

Most of the big names in the men’s draw have gone through: Roger Federer gave a neat and tidy display against Aussie Luczak; it may be a first round performance but the crowd still gets the flashes of Federer magic that will start to become more and more in use in later rounds. Rafael Nadal had little problem sweeping aside a brave Mina. Dressed, rather confusingly, in the yellow colours usually donned by his fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, Mina only managed at 6-2 6-2 6-2 dent in Nadal’s thumping onwards to the second round. However, it was gusty play from a teenager playing only his second match at ATP Player. Naturally he was the home favourite, but Nadal won through with superior strength and intelligence, and it was a comforting sight to see him back in his swing at Rolland Garros.

It’s these two competitors whose performance dominates the game. Will it be another Federer/Nadal final, something we haven’t seen in a Grand Slam final since the Australian Open 2009. Of course we recently saw them partake in their first finals battle in Madrid, but when it comes to the Grand Slams these two men have a different class of play – and a different class of rivalry – altogether.

Andy Murray had a tough time in what is going to be a tough draw. He came from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 6-1. It shows the mental and physical strength that he can utilise, but it is a mental and physical strength he is almost certainly going to need for the rest of his time at Rolland Garros, more so maybe than the other top players who have a slightly easier ride.  Tomorrow he plays Juan Ignacio Chela, a tough appointment after a gruelling four hour struggle against Gasquet.

Andy Roddick has also made it through, after coming from behind in a five setter against Jarkko Nieminen. Bright hopeful Ernst Gulbis retired with injury in the first round on Sunday, and as many people’s dark horse of the tournament it is a shame to see him – in such a positive match – have to withdraw

Robin Soderling only took an hour and a half to beat wildcard Recouderc in what most would consider a convincing display, winning 6-0 6-2 6-3.

There were a few casualties in the women’s side of the game. The British women’s hopes have been dashed as Anne Keothavong, Elena Baltacha and the Katie O’Brien have all been beaten in the first round. Dinara Safina has also be cast from the tournament, after being beaten in three sets by Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krum. The former world one looked as though she couldn’t believe what had happened; but with a convincing 3 set win Date-Krum definitely deserves her place in the second round.

Justine Henin appears confident and at home at the French Open, with a first round win against Tsventana Pironkova, 6-4 6-3. Although we won’t be getting the Henin/Clijsters final many of us were hoping for, Henin looks ready to shake up the top seeds on her way to what could be her first Grand Slam since her return. Who stands out in the women’s draw usually isn’t very clear until later on in the tournament; often top seeds can be shed quickly in surprise results, and lower ranking players can make great runs through the tournament. We shall have to wait and see.

Tomorrow brings the second round of the tournament, and while some have enjoyed a comfortable cruise in the first, others are going to have to catch their breath quickly if they have a hope of succeeding.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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