Round One

May 25, 2011

Now that the first round has been tied up, we can start to enjoy the excitement that the second round on a glorious day four at Roland Garros  brings. The first round was not, as usual, without its upsets. But my heart broke for my fantasy team when I saw that Thomas Berdych, who has reached the semi finals in this tournament before, fell to the French qualified Stephane Robert in five sets.

Winning 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 9-7, Robert whipped the French crowd into a frenzy as he won his first ever match in his home country’s greatest tournament. He is ranked 140th in the world and got a raucous round of applause for his victory over the Czech who currently stands at number eight.

Apart from the Berdych upset, there were few losses for the big names at Roland Garros . Gael Monfis beat Phau of Germany, and Mikail Youzhny of Russia and Viktor Troicki of Serbia made their mark on their tournament in straight set wins over their first round opponents.

The big American John Isner, who will always be remembered for taking part in the longest running match in tennis history at Wimbledon last year, pushed his opponent to the limit in his first round. Was his opponent a gutsy no-namer who eventually battled past the huge American forehand and got through to the second round in an epic upset? No, his opponent was one Rafael Nadal. You may have heard of him. The fact that Rafa could drop a point on clay is still something of a shock. Television viewers with high sensitivity or with a nervous disposition probably would have been wise not to have watched this particular encounter, with Rafa having to battle from two sets to one down to finally claw a victory. Nadal cites nerves as his biggest issue, which after being beaten by Novak Djokovic on the clay only a few weeks ago is probably understandable.

Speaking of Novak Djokovic, not much has changed since I last wrote about him. He continues to stride on towards the final, looking happy and confident which for all the other players is a dangerous combination. Roger Federer is not lagging behind though, he beat Feliciano Lopez – a difficult first round opponent to meet – and took it in three sets. His form may be on the patchy side but he has a Grand Slam title in sight and he won’t take his eye off it for anything or for anyone, no matter how many matches in a row they have won.

Brits were thrilled to see their two female players take first round victories. Elena Baltacha and Heather Watson are the first two female British players to get through to the second round in this French tournament for 19 years, so their victories warmed the hearts of many British tennis fans who have been disheartened by recent performances. Despite a rather laborious first round, Kim Clijsters looks in good form to continue being the favourite. However it is Maria Sharapova who has caught my eye. I have been waiting since her Wimbledon victory all those years ago to see her shoot back into stardom, and it seems like she has made some baby steps in that direction in the European leg of this year’s season. She recently won in the Rome Masters and comfortably beat Croatia Mirjana Lucic in 56 minutes at Roland Garros. Ana Ivanovic, unsurprisingly, has been ejected early from the tournament.

Before finishing this round-up, I want to make a special mention of Virginie Razzano. Her fiancé Stephane Vidal, who was also her coach, sadly passed away only eight days ago, and yet she turned out onto the Philipe Chatrier court to play her first round match. Stephane died well before his time after a long battle with a brain tumour, and had made Virginie promise to do her best at the French Open and at Wimbledon. Although the French player obviously found it extremely painful and emotional, she held herself together with astounding composure, and I know that the tennis world will admire her courage and send them their heartfelt condolences at this difficult time.

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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