Things We Learned On Day 3 Of The 2015 French Open


1. The Eugenie struggle is real

Eugenie Bouchard is having a terrible year. After the glorious heights of 2014, the Canadian has not been able to replicate her form at all and is in worrying shape ahead of her crucial grass season. As many of us expected, she was not able to come through her first round match today against home hope Kristina Mladenovic, who is admittedly in very good form lately.

With this loss Bouchard risks dropping out of the Top 10, and will have her work cut out for her defending finalist points at Wimbledon.

Worryingly in press after the match Bouchard said the following: “At this point I had no expectations coming in. I have no expectations for the foreseeable future.” Not something we want to hear from a player who stormed onto the world stage a year ago.

There’s a good chance this is just a sophomore slump, but a slump it certainly is.

Mladenovic through, 6-4 6-4

2. The Grigor struggle is also real

I could just copy and paste the above segment here, with names replaced. The no. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov will be disappointed with his performance today, dropping to America’s Jack Sock in straight sets. Although not quite as accomplished as Bouchard’s, Dimitrov had a breakthrough season of his own last year but looks flat and uninspired so far in 2015.

That said, Dimitrov didn’t perform well at Roland Garros last year either, falling in the first round on that occasion too to Ivo Karlovic. This means that at least the Bulgarian didn’t have any points to defend here, although he’ll be disappointed he couldn’t add to his ranking tally.

Sock, for his part, is having a really good season and making some impressive steps forward. Keep an eye on him as 2015 progresses, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing plenty more of him.

Sock through, 7-6 6-2 6-3

3. It’s not always easy to keep your eye on the ball

Serena Williams had a straightforward opening match vs Hlavackova, who was aiming just to win games having been double-bageled in their last encounter. Hlavackova was granted that achievement thanks to some confident play from her and some rust in Serena’s game to start the tournament.

One particular highlight was a Hlavackova lob that Williams utterly misjudged, resulting in this:

Williams gathered herself though, and quickly closed out the match.

S.Williams through, 6-2 6-3

4. Novak is nervous and that’s okay

Novak Djokovic is having the kind of year that makes you think he is completely inhuman – a tennis machine, ready to chew up anything in it’s path. But Novak Djokovic is not inhuman, he is just a very talented human being with emotions like the rest of us. And like the rest of us, he gets nervous.

He looked edgy today playing his opening match against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, coming close to dropping the second set, but he steadied himself and was able to consolidate. A win is a win, nervous or not, and a straight sets victory implies that Djokovic is very much ready for battle.

Djokovic through, 6-2 7-5 6-2

5. There is no need for Rafa to feel blue

If Roger’s outfit startled for its contrasting purple and pink, Rafa went for shocks with blocks as he stepped out onto court today fully clad in blue from head-to-not-quite-toe.  

Opinion seemed to be divided on this outfit but I will say that I think it’s a great look, and everyone who thinks otherwise is utterly incorrect. So there.

Nadal was happy with his performance out on court today, although he is very open about some of the difficulties he is facing with his game: “With my forehand I’m not as steady and consistent as in the past,” he said in press. “Of course I can still impart some spin, but I’m not smooth enough with my forehand. I’m suffering from a lack of stability with my shots.”

Despite a lack of stability, Nadal was able to come through his opening match in straight sets without too much hardship. His draw is friendly enough that it would be a surprise to see him upset before his scheduled quarter-final with Djokovic. At which point…let the games begin.

Nadal through, 6-3 6-3 6-4

6. The Bencic backhand lives

How can I explain the torture of watching Daniela Hantuchova vs Belinda Bencic? For a fan of women’s tennis, this is one of those situations where anyone losing is a sad day – the old favourite and the thrilling new young gun, both beloved. Kind of like if Sandra Bullock and Emma Stone were competing for an Oscar. How can one choose?!

Well fortunately in Oscars and in tennis we have no choice, and Bencic’s backhand can do the deciding for us. The Swiss youngster is still one of the most exciting young faces on the tour if you ask me – certainly somebody who can show up firing and cause a lot of damage. Granted, Hantuchova is nowhere near as steady as she once was, but this was still a good win for Bencic. 

It gets better: she faces Madison Keys in round 2 in what could be a thriller versus another popular figure. Kind of like if Emma Stone beat Sandra Bullock, and then competed with Anna Kendrick a year later. HOW CAN ONE CHOOSE?!

Bencic through, 6-3 6-3

7. Petra Kvitova will be the death of us all

Petra Kvitova, two time Wimbledon champion and world no.4, needed three sets to get past Marina Erakovic of New Zealand in her opening match of the tournament. I just don’t know, you guys, I just don’t know. I lie awake at night wondering what to make of Kvitova. She might not lose another set the whole tournament, she might not win another game. 

That’s the glory and the wonder of Petra.

Kvitova through, 6-4 3-6 6-4

8. Jerzy Janowicz is never far from controversy

Check this out for a handshake:

Janowicz through, 6-7 6-3 6-4 6-4

9. The Bernardes / Rafa thing is a bit ridiculous

Okay so Nadal explained in press today that YES he has asked for Umpire Carlos Bernardes not to officiate his matches for a while, a request which has been granted by the ATP. Here are Rafa’s comments:

Yes, it was my request. I asked if it’s possible, but nothing personal against him 100%. I respect him like umpire, I respect him like person, and I consider him a good person. So for me is not – I am not happy with that situation. That’s the first thing. Because I would love to have Bernardes on the court again. […] I think for both of us it is better to have a break, you know. We had some problems. For me he hasn’t — he was not enough respectful with me in Rio de Janeiro . That was my feeling when I put my shorts the other way. He wants to put me warnings four times, that’s fine. But if I put my shorts other way and I ask him if I can change my shorts, I can put my shorts the right way, and his answer is, Yes, but you will receive a time warning. For me, that’s not fair, you know,

Nadal has long felt that Bernardes has treated him unfairly when its come to time warnings, and this exchange in Rio de Janeiro was the last straw. Of course, this whole situation is causing discord among tennis fans who feel it’s either outrageous or quite reasonable.

The wonderful Lindsay Gibbs couldn’t join me in posting today, but she’s worked her way into the feature anyway with her constant ability to shine a light on the ridiculous brilliance of tennis:

10. Jelena Jankovic is out, the world is a little bleaker

I will leave this here as a final mournful note and I’ll cheer myself up in time to speak to you all again tomorrow.

Andrew can be found in the mountains of Switzerland, watching tennis and trying not to eat too much Swiss cheese. You can follow him on twitter @BackSwings

2 Responses

  1. Alb
    Alb May 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm |

    Don’t think it’s about Rafa’s shorts. I agree with Novak who said that the idea of a referee being barred from certain players when he does nothing wrong is unfair.

    I also think it sets a dangerous precedent when undeniably one of the two most powerful and popular and revenue driving players in the game can have a ref he doesn’t like moved off his matches – because that ref tried to do his job.

    Very poor marks for Rafael Nadal. Very very poor.

    And I have heard very few folks say it is “quite reasonable” compared to the many saying it is just plain wrong.

  2. James
    James May 29, 2015 at 6:05 am |

    I’m rooting for Novak this year. He wants it so bad, it’s almost palpable. Almost like Roger before he finally won. Then again, Novak has won just about EVERYTHING so far this year, so how much is too much? That said, it would be REALLY fun for him to win the French and Wimbledon just so we can see the mega pressure on him at the USO for the calendar year Grand Slam, no?

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