The opening day at the season’s second Grand Slam turned into an up-and-down day for the Williams sisters Serena and Venus. In the final, most dramatic match of the day, Venus fought back from a 5-2 down in the third the Urszula Radwanska before losing 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4.
Venus has never been regarded as much of a clay court player anyway, but neither had been the 40th-ranked Radwanska who in the end benefited from Venus’s ongoing back issue.
“My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that’s very difficult for me, too, because that’s not who I am,” Venus said after the 3-hour, 20-minute epic. “But that’s all I had. So that was challenging to, you know, be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point. It’s like you have to suddenly change your mindset.
“I want my serve back. I’m going to try to get it back for Wimbledon.”
For Venus, who knows if she’ll be back playing in Paris again. It’s just not going to get any easier.
Younger sister Serena, though, had no trouble crushing Anna Tatishvili earlier in the day 6-0, 6-1. After the 2002 French Open champion was shocked in the first round last year, Serena wasn’t going to let that happen.
“I was nervous – I’m always a little nervous going into first round matches at Slams,” Williams said. “This time I wasn’t as nervous as I was at other Grand Slams, though. But for the most part I felt pretty safe and felt good about my game and that if I just do what I did in practice, I’ll be okay.”
Serena has now won her last 25 matches and she’s winning the rather easily.
Former champion Ana Ivanovic was also a winner as was surprise 2012 finalist Sara Errani.
Tomorrow Maria Sharapova opens her title defense. Former champion Li Na is also on tap as are Aga Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki who plays youngster Laura Robson in the women’s match of the day.
On the men’s side, it was business as usual for Roger Federer. The Swiss who hasn’t lost in the first round of a Slam in 10 years showed why today dominating newcomer Pablo Carrena Busta 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. I thought the young Spaniard would put up a fight, but Federer simply seized control early and never really let Carrena Busta get into the match.
“I think I started all three sets well, was able to get in the lead,” said Federer. “Then playing from the lead against a player like him, it’s always easier, and so I put a lot of emphasis on that.”
Few, if anyone, is giving Federer much of a chance to win a second French Open, and that doesn’t both Roger.
“Am I a favorite or not? I don’t care, because it doesn’t give me any more opportunities to win the tournament,” Federer said. “So you want to remain focused, calm, focused on what you want to do, and then let the storm go by.”
But does have that incredible draw.
David Ferrer, Milos Roanic, Sam Querrey and were also first round winners. And in the match of the day for the men, Gilles Simon tagged Lleyton Hewitt in five sets. After getting blown out in the first two sets the Frenchman stormed back take a tight fifth. Simon led 5-0 in that fifth before holding on to win 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.
“I simply got back into the match by playing better,” said Simon. “Unfortunately, at the end he played one more time great tennis. It’s never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5-1, 5-2, 5-3 after a few match points. So I’m just happy that I managed to win this one.”
Added Hewitt, “It’s disappointing, but I obviously didn’t come here with massive expectations,” said Hewitt. “He’s a quality player as well. Would have been nice to get win, and then the draw opens up a little bit as well when you take a seed spot. So that’s frustrating. I was happy for the most part with my ball striking, though.”
Like Venus, this could have been Hewitt farewell from the French.
Kevin Anderson, who continues to be a force on any surface, was a winner along with Jeremy Chardy, Andreas Seppi and Viktor Troikci who likely ended James Blake’s French career.
Tomorrow, Rafael Nadal returns against the big-serving Daniel Brands. Nadal has never in his life lost in the first round of a Grand Slam but Brands has been playing good tennis of late. Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and JW Tsonga are joined by Gael Monfils who plays Tomas Berdych in what should be a good one.
Hope everyone is having a nice holiday weekend (for U.S. readers).
FRENCH OPEN MONDAY SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
Na Li (CHN) v. A. Medina Garrigues (ESP)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Daniel Brands (GER)
Tomas Berdych (CZE) v. Gael Monfils (FRA)
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v. Shahar Peer (ISR)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v. Aljaz Bedene (SLO)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v. Laura Robson (GBR)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) v. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
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