1. Swiss efficiency, security inefficiency
Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer were both in action today, their matches taking place at the same time on the main show courts of Roland Garros. Federer faced Alejandro Falla of Colombia, a player who had threatened him before during a very close match at Wimbledon. The threat was not to be today – the Swiss no.1 and world no.2 looked in fine form, firing down his serves and striking his forehand beautifully.
The real drama came after the match, when a fan ran onto the court to try and take a selfie with Federer, completely ignored by security. Eventually security did respond, but it took far too long. Federer was not impressed with the standards:
“Well, I’m not happy about it. It happened yesterday in the practice, too. Happened during the finals in ’09 as well for me. Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that that’s where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe. And so clearly I’m not happy about it. But nothing happened, so I’m relieved.”
Federer through, 6-3 6-3 6-4.
Wawrinka, recovering from a R3 loss at home in Geneva earlier this week, looked to have found his best game too against Marsel Ilhan of Turkey. Lately Wawrinka has shown some flashes of the form that took him to slam glory at the Australian Open in 2014, and he’ll need that form if he’s to challenge in his projected quarter-final vs Federer. For now, the Swiss no.2 will be happy with a comfortable first round victory to build upon as the week progresses.
Wawrinka through, 6-3 6-2 6-3.
2. Simona Halep – Not great yet, but good enough
Halep hasn’t been in her best form throughout the clay season, so all eyes will be on her as she attempts to at least equal her runner-up finish in 2014. Out on court Phillipe Chatrier, Halep certainly didn’t look completely comfortable against Russian world no.91 Evgeniya Rodina but ultimately Halep’s game was too much for Rodina to hold in check.
In press after the match, Halep said she’s feels like a stronger player than the one who reached the final last year: “I’m stronger, I think, mentally. And I’m stronger on court. I have a stronger body and I have improved a lot in my game.”
The early rounds of a slam are always about survival – there is no requirement to play your best tennis straight away. Halep will be hoping she can build up confidence and rhythm during week one in time for the tougher challenges that will face her in the later rounds.
Halep through, 7-5 6-4.
3. French women fail to hold onto promising leads
Caroline Garcia, no.31 seed, big French hope for the future and *cough* Lindsay’s dark horse pick in our preview podcast *cough* fell in three sets today to world no.165 Donna Vekic. After the match, Garcia explained that she would much rather have played on a smaller court and doesn’t like playing on Philippe Chatrier: “It’s too much to play on this court, and next year I will ask to play on court No. 9, a sort of hidden court where there is nobody.”
If you ask me, that isn’t exactly a great attitude from a player some have suggested might be no.1 in the future. Donna Vekic, on the other hand, seemed very happy to get her first experience on a slam show court:
Vekic through, 3-6 6-3 6-2
Out on an outside court, Oceane Dodin looked to be progressing to R2 as she led Kurumi Nara 6-2, but the exciting young French player couldn’t hold it together once Nara made slight adjustments in her game. Dodin is a big hitter and rushed Nara for the first period of the encounter, but Nara took a step backwards and focused on getting the ball back as often as possible. Under increased pressure from Nara, Dodin couldn’t keep a clear mind.
Nara through, 2-6 7-5 6-1.
4. Today, in leg fashion
Roger Federer has arrived in Paris sporting a fetching purple shirt and extremely bright pink shorts which I think make him look like a big piece of candy. With Stanislas Wawrinka still sporting his checked pink shorts that have stirred in tennis fans a unanimous disgust, I decided to ask the big question:
If you had to wear one pair of shorts for the rest of your life, would you wear Roger’s or Stan’s? — Andrew Eccles (@BackSwings) May 24, 2015
The answers I received were mixed, and wonderfully snarky. Here’s twitter trying to pick their shorts:
@BackSwings Stan’s without a doubt. They can double as a tablecloth, or blanket for a picnic. — Adam Perugino (@AdamPerugino) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings oh easy…Roger’s without a single doubt. Stan’s are atrocious, however, Fed’s radioactive watermelon shorts I can work with. — Rhian (@rosso_neri) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings both, in the hope they’d merge into something respectable — 0 (@ForcedErrors) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings Stan’s. I wouldn’t be caught wearing hot pink shorts. Unless I got Fed’s brand deal. I’d wear them on my head if need be. — Mr Duncurrber (@David__Costa) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings I think I would actually resort to staying indoors for ever….. — Ros S (@rfsatar) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings Stan’s cos I’d rather be thought of as an older guy with bad taste than as an older guy who doesn’t realise he’s no longer young — Chris P (@scoobstennis) May 24, 2015
@BackSwings Stan’s, unless I wanted to one up my competition and blind them temporarily, because whoa, need a minute after looking at Fed’s — Nick Woodbury (@thedailyvolley) May 24, 2015
Never change, tennis twitter.
1. I still hate this First Sunday crap.
In theory, I get the Sunday start to a tournament. Normal people have weekends off, and this gives them another chance to come to the tennis. But in reality? It sucks, year after year.
The truth is, that there are usually only a handful of GREAT first-round matches. What makes the first round thrilling is the pure insanity of it, and that is missing on the opening Sunday of the French Open. The crowds are not great, the atmosphere is missing, and it’s just BLAH.
Of course, it didn’t help that today the matches were mostly anticlimactic and straight forward, but really, have any First Sundays ever provided fireworks?
2. Steve Johnson has some grit.
I did not expect Steve Johnson to beat GGL, particularly after he dropped the third and fourth sets and went down an early break in the fifth. But Johnson dug deep and pulled out the victory.
It wasn’t such an exciting match that I needed to see it on two channels at once here in the USA, but it was the only men’s match that wasn’t completely straightforward, so that’s something.
3. Mikhail Youzhny is my spirit animal.
Looki, it’s been a rough year for the Captain. He has only won back-to-back matches once, and hasn’t defeated a top-50 player since July of 2014.
Today, he won three games in two sets against Damir Dzumhur, and in the middle of that knocked himself in the head with the racket repeatedly. He retired after just two sets.
Mikhail Youzhny has a history of hitting himself in the head with his racquet. At least there was no blood this time. http://t.co/PS305FYEoF
— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) May 24, 2015
(I love him.)
4. Hey there Fed.
There hasn’t been a lot of buzz around Roger Federer at this year’s French Open, but maybe there should be? I wrote about his title chances at Bleacher Report.
I didn't even realise what was happening in the background of this photo… pic.twitter.com/h4lD0xk4G3
— James Peeling (@MooTennisBlog) May 24, 2015
6. The Camila Giorgi Experience is still in tact.
Giorgi wins 7-5, 6-3 with 46 winners, 49 unforced errors. Maria with 8 W/16 UFEs.
— Sam Davis (@Around_ThePost) May 24, 2015
She plays Garbine Muguruza next. YES PLEASE.