With his twin daughters in attendance, Roger Federer helped get the 2014 French Open underway, easing into the second round with a straight sets win over Lukas Lacko.
Day 1 Recap
Looking resplendent in red, Federer was never really troubled on Centre Court, whilst on Court Suzanne Lenglen eighth seed Milos Raonic survived some tricky moments to overcome young Aussie Nick Kyrgios in 3 sets. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the battle of the Frenchmen, whilst fifteenth seed Mikhail Youzhny was forced to come from 2 sets to love down to down young Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
Tomas Berdych, looking sharp in a Hawaiian inspired shirt, recorded a comfortable straight sets win over Canada’s Peter Polansky, as John Isner also booked a spot in the second round, the lanky American downing the French wildcard Herbert in 3 tight sets.
In the women’s tournament, defending champion Serena Williams cruised past local hope Alize Lim, as Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena’s sister Venus recorded good wins over Zhang and Bencic respectively. Other winners on Day 1 on the women’s side including Slovakian veteran Daniela Hantuchova, Germany’s Angelique Kerber, and Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Matches of the Day – Day 2
1. Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
For the first time in his life, Stan Wawrinka enters a major tournament as a Grand Slam champion. Whether this weighs on his mind or gives him added confidence remains to be seen, but the third seed showed in Monte Carlo that he is a true contender on clay-courts as well as hard-courts.
Wawrinka’s form has been a little patchy post-Melbourne, but the Swiss star will need to be on song in this clash against former top 30 player and clay-court specialist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez’s game is what you would expect of a Spaniard reared on clay, full of long flowing strokes and deft movement, but Wawrinka should have too many weapons for his opponent in this showdown. Wawrinka in 4.
2. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Virginie Razzano
Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova will be looking to build on her success in Melbourne by making another run deep into the second week of this tournament. The diminutive Slovakian has had success at Roland Garros in the past and is a former semi-finalist in Paris.
Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano will have the crowd behind her in this encounter and the veteran will be looking for it to inspire her to great heights, just as it did in 2011 when she sensationally dumped Serena Williams out of the tournament in the opening round. Unfortunately for Razzano, I can’t see lightning striking twice. Cibulkova in 2.
3. Martin Klizan vs. Kei Nishikori
Some pundits have picked Japan’s Kei Nishikori as a dark horse to claim the men’s singles title in Paris this year. Coached by 1989 French Open winner Michael Chang, the ninth seed has certainly improved his clay-court game tremendously over the past couple of seasons, as was evident when he worked himself into a winning position against Nadal in the recent final in Madrid, only to later retire injured.
Hip and groin problems have troubled Nishikori this season, but when fit he’s been a delight to watch, his clean ball-striking and exceptional court coverage being the keys to his success. Klizan is a tricky opponent, and the Slovakian showed he can play on clay by lifting the trophy in Munich a couple of weeks ago. But, so long as he is healthy, I’ll pick Nishikori to prevail. Nishikori in 4.
4. Monica Puig vs. Sam Stosur
Aussie Sam Stosur could have won a couple of French Opens by now if things had gone just a little bit differently for the 2011 US Open champion. Stosur’s powerful kick serve and heavily top-spun groundstrokes make her a danger on the red dirt, and she has a 2009 finals appearance at Roland Garros, along with a handful of other impressive showings, to prove it.
This should be an absorbing contest, with Stosur facing 20 year old Puerto Rican Monica Puig, who enters the tournament fresh off collecting her maiden singles title in Strasbourg. Puig is a tenacious player, but Stosur, though she has struggled in 2014, should have too much experience for her younger opponent in this one. Stosur in 3.
5. Rafael Nadal vs. Robby Ginepri
With all the speculation swirling around about Nadal’s sub-par clay-court season to date, the Spanish top seed will be relieved simply to get on court and do what he does best: notch up wins at Roland Garros.
The 8-time champion is back at the venue where he arguably feels most at home, and I think Nadal will be intent on starting the tournament off positively and generating some confidence for the remainder of the event. American veteran Ginepri is a former US Open semi-finalist and has twice made it to the round of 16 in Paris, but his best tennis is behind him and Nadal will roll to victory in this one. Nadal in 3.
Put your house on: Second seed Novak Djokovic to cruise past Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Sousa made the second round of Roland Garros, but he won’t be returning there this year.
Upset alert: Israeli veteran Shahar Peer will test rising star and eighteenth seed Eugenie Bouchard in their opening round clash on Day 2.
Likely to go the distance: Austrian Dominic Thiem is an up-and-comer on the ATP Tour, whilst Paul-Henri Mathieu will give it everything he’s got in front of his home crowd. Pencil in 5 sets for this one.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.