Nadal, Djokovic Cruise In French Openers; Federer, Wawrinka Hope For Better Treatment Tomorrow
by Staff | May 26th, 2015, 3:47 pm

Top tournament favorites Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal cruised in their French Open first rounders today. The 9-time champion Nadal looked the part authoring a comfortable, though not dominant, win over Grand Slam newbie Quentin Halys of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

“I think he played aggressive,” Nadal said of the 18-year-old, which is the same age when Rafa first played the French in 2005. “I think he played well. He played obviously with some mistakes, but when you want to risk on every single ball, then the mistakes are there, you know. You know, the tennis is moving that way. Younger, aggressive. And the tour in general are moving to hit the ball stronger and quicker, you know, going for the winners all the time. So when he wants to play like this and he put the balls in, just I cannot do nothing. But when the point was playing in normal conditions, I think I play well.

“I think I changed good directions with my forehand, very good forehand down the line. After the first three games that I started a little bit slow, then I start moving the ball better. I am happy the way that I played, no? Is the first match and I played enough well, and I think my forehand worked well for a lot of moments.”

Nadal is now 67-1 at his favorite tournament in the world. He’s also won 27 of his last 29 sets there and improves to 90-1 in best-of-5 on clay.

Djokovic followed posting a similar result, overcoming a break down in the second to beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. It was Djokovic’s 23rd straight match win. One that he says, wasn’t easy.

“It was a test, it was a challenge for me to come back to the court again after first match after Rome finals,” Djokovic said. “And obviously it’s been a year since I played on Philippe Chatrier, and nice memories. Of course, I was aware of the quality and experience of my opponent today, who has shown, and especially in the second set, why he’s been around the tour and a successful, consistent player for so many years. He can play. He can swing through the ball and being very aggressive. And he was the better player for most of the second set. And then, you know, managed to come back and play some good shots, stayed patient, stayed calm. And overall it was a very solid performance.”

Djokovic and Nadal could meet in the quarterfinals next Wednesday on Rafa’s 29th birthday. Novak also talked about the Chartier court on this cool day.

“The court right now is in good condition. It’s a bit slippery, probably because of a little bit of a heavier conditions these days. Because of the weather it seems that there is a bit more clay and it’s wet, and that’s why the overall feel and impression for the court that it’s a bit slower than usual.”

David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, Jeremy Chardy, John Isner and US Open champion Marin Cilic were also winners today. The big upset came from Jack Sock who beat the struggling Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.

“Today was a great match for me,” said Sock who made the French third round last year. “Things that I look to do well when I’m playing my matches I thought I did very well today: serving, forehand. Obviously most people know the things I look for the most. I thought I executed them very well. For the most part I took care of my serve fairly well and was able to get into a lot his service games and make him play some balls. I was fortunate enough to get through.”

The 10th-seeded Dimitrov is the highest seeded eliminated, and it’s the second straight year he lost in the first round. The 24-year-old made the Wimbledon semifinals a year ago.

The second round kicks off on Wednesday with Roger Federer clashing with the grunter Marcel Granollers. Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych and the Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils are also on the schedule.

Both Federer and Wawrinka were the subject of opening day controversy on Sunday. Things should be much smoother Wednesday in Paris, at least off the court.

Philippe-Chatrier Court 11:00 AM Start
Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS)[2]
Kei Nishikori (JPN)[5] vs. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Gael Monfils (FRA)[13] vs. Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)[8] vs. Virginie Razzano (FRA)

Suzanne-Lenglen Court 11:00 AM Start
Samantha Stosur (AUS)[26] vs. Amandine Hesse (FRA)
Marcel Granollers (ESP) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)[2]
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs. Simona Halep (ROU)[3]
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)[14] vs. Dudi Sela (ISR)

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45 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Cruise In French Openers; Federer, Wawrinka Hope For Better Treatment Tomorrow

jane Says:

stats fans will find this post on dominance in the open era interesting. it focuses on grand slam results specifically.

django Says:

Man what is going on with overhyped dimitrov and bouchard?

kjb Says:

Dimitrov has to dump Roger Rasheed as his coach ASAP. I still think he can be a top 5 player but his serve and forehand just aren’t the weapons they were a few years back. He is playing way to far behind the baseline these days. Sock is playing his best tennis in the past few months, but its Jack Sock, he has a serve and a forehand, that’s it.

Michael Says:

I feel Niemenen is vastly an under rated player who has under achieved in his career despite possessing an explosive and high voltage game and has a wide arsenal of incisive shots which can trouble any player. Against Novak, Niemenen went for broke as he knew that it was the only way he can challenge the dominance of his opponent. And he did execute that strategy very well on the court, only that Novak was upto his tactic and countered it quite effectively with his amazing defensive skills which is second to none. For sure, against any other player, Niemenen would have stretched this match and made it a marathon encounter, but not against Novak who is flowering with confidence, energy, dedication and commitment to win his first Rolland Garros crown and thereby cement his name further in the line up of Greats of Tennis by securing the Calendar Grand Slam. It was a phenomenal match which the score line would not reveal and a very gripping and interesting encounter which I enjoyed to the brim.

Giles Says:

“It was a test, it was a challenge, I was aware of the quality a d experience of my opponent today”. Says joker of Jarkho. The man is 33 years old for goodness sake! LMAO

Eric Says:

mat4 posted some time ago about Vilas’ case to be ranked no. 1 at certain points in 1975 and 76. It appears the ATP is not going to grant the request, and here’s an interesting article about it:

What’s notable is that the rankings system back then was apparently different–it was based on a player’s “average” results (not clear what this means or how it was calculated; any tennis historians out there?) rather than aggregated results.

For those of us who don’t know much about that ancient era of tennis (kidding, kind of), what’s crazy is to learn that Vilas had a ludicrously good season in 1977 — he won sixteen titles, including two slams!, but was somehow only no. 2 behind Connors, who won zero slams.

I guess a lesson here is that our current ideas about how to rank and compare players and their “greatness” are actually only quite recently developed. We all know, for example, that Agassi didn’t bother playing the Australian Open for the first half of his career because, like, who cares?, but it’s fascinating that even pretty well into the ATP era the rankings system was so far out of the limelight.

So there are actually two different sorts of “injustice” (not to be melodramatic) being done to Vilas here: first, he should have been ranked no. 1 for two months in 1975 and 1976 according to the system then in use, but was not because rankings happened not to be calculated during those windows; and, second, in 1977 when he was obviously the most accomplished player on tour, the conceptual machinery for accurately ranking players had yet to be developed. At the same time, Kermode’s basic point that, well, maybe Vilas should have been ranked no. 1 for a few weeks, but we didn’t publish those rankings, so he he was, in fact, _not_ ranked no. 1, is not as straightforwardly unfair as it seems at first. Clearly Vilas SHOULD have had the top ranking for those weeks in 75 and 76; but he did not.

What would be really interesting would be, so far as this is even possible, going back through all the early open era tournament records and recalculating rankings, etc., based on the current system (of course, this would entail making somewhat arbitrary decisions about how to reclassify tournaments in the different earlier systems, but, as long as reasonably consistent criteria were used, this shouldn’t be a problem).

It’s also an interesting case study of how knowledge, judgments, and criteria become centralized and “officialized” as part of their rationalization. I knew that Bourdieu would come in handy some day.

Eric Says:

Jane, thanks for that article! It is interesting.

What do you think about the ATP’s current points-per-round system? I have personally long felt that that a more accurate rankings picture would be produced if the tail end finishes were clumped much closer together (that is to say, if a SF is to be worth 720 and an F 1200, should a W really be 2000? if player A reaches three SFs and player B wins one slam and loses in the third round at two others, isn’t it clear that player A is better than player B? yet the current system would give B more points than A; and so a better system would heavily reward reaching, say, the fourth, fifth, sixth rounds of a tournament, but would differentiate less sharply between winning and merely being a finalist or semifinalist, which is, after all, generally a very close matter, unlike making it to the second week — if this all makes sense).

I’m also impressed and a little bit shocked that Djokovic is already so high on these lists. To me, what this suggests is that attaining the ideal of consistency on all surfaces in tennis has only become possible in the last ten years or so. People are always talking about court surfaces becoming more and more similar, and I don’t know much about the science behind tennis courts, but I wonder if that’s got something to do with it. I mean, Djokovic is pretty far ahead of Sampras, Connors, Lendl, … on that average points chart. (And, as the author knows, career averages are actually a silly way to compare players: for example, Roger’s is lower than Rafa’s mainly because he played several relatively undistinguished years at the start of his career; also, does this give Rafa zeros for the slams he missed? why or why not?; one solution is to compare a fixed number of the player’s best years or best x-year window, or the like, but the choice of x is always then also going to be arbitrary or unfair.)

Markus Says:

Oh holy crap! What an absolutely dreadful drop shot by Verdasco on break/match point.

Markus Says:

By the way, interesting reads and comments from Jane and Eric (see above). Thanks!

Markus Says:

Will try to get rid of all the bad tastes in my mouth from the last few days by focusing only on the positive today. That starts with Federer winning his second round match. And look, there’s a security guard standing very close to him with eyes darting around, ready to tackle intruders!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

It is true that Agassi skipped Oz for years, but by that time Oz was well established as one of the majors. No doubt about it. Agassi also skipped Wimbledon for a few years. That doesn’t mean Wimbledon wasn’t a Slam for a few years!

I started following tennis in the mid-80′s and the “status” of the tournaments, as far as Slams, was fixed by then. I think Rome, then referred to more as the Italian Open, and the Canadian Open were considered the next big ones, until Key Biscayne came along and it quickly at the end of the 90′s became known as the 5th Slam.

Peter Stewart Says:

I agree with what someone said above. Dimitrov might be the biggest “what could have been” in recent years because he was too slow to make a coaching change. He’s an elite player right now, but with the right coach, he could be comfortably in the top ten. Rasheed is a grinder and Dimitrov needs a tactician.

jane Says:

fognini is having one of his days i guess? i kind of thought he might do okay at the french this year but it looks like he’ll go out tamely in 3 sets.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

He wants to be the new Gulbis.

You’ll find him tonight with the working girls!

jalep Says:

Well that was too much for Fabio. Nice to see Benoit Paire getting some form back. I think the crowd helped him too.

Very impressive from Nishikori. Bellucci has been on a hot streak and I wondered if he could over-power Kei. Chapeau to Kei!

jalep Says:

Yay! Go Radek…

He wins 2nd set tie break.

Tomas will have to play 4 sets at least to win.

jalep Says:

Diego Scwartzman and LaMonf in a 5th set on serve. The little guy Diego can really fight!

skeezer Says:

see that…Monfils is a battle there. Some good matches lined up tomorrow. Am interested in the Coric kid vs Robredo too.

jalep Says:

Did any of you guys see Federer use a two-handed backhand today? yep, he did. It was effective.

RZ Says:

@Jalep – I read that Fed was having a lot of trouble with his backhand. Maybe that’s why he went to the 2-hander?

@Michael – I agree with you about Niemenen. I feel like he was capable of more throughout his career.

RZ Says:

Nice to see Tsonga getting back on track after a few bad months.

skeezer Says:

Yeah there is a vid somewhere I saw re: Fed 2 hander.
@RZ that point where he hit the 2 hander…he wound up hitting a saweeet one handed DTL BH winner to finish the point.

Monfils wins in 5.

jalep Says:

Definitely good matches tomorrow, skeezer.

Coric really had his hands full in his 1st round match with Querry, didn’t he? Only saw the score. But Coric is one of my youngster favorites.

My favorite of all the youngsters is Rublev though. He didn’t make it to FO qualies. He’s playing in a clay challenger this week. Keep an eye out for Andrey Rublev, Skeezer!

jalep Says:

Yeah, that two-hander of Fed’s was to set up that DTL Backhand winner. He needs to use that two hander more, i think and scare everyonw :D Might be the secret to getting another Slam, if he used it more often. ;)

skeezer Says:

Rubble eh? Will check him out. Noticed you always have liked to see those newcomers on tour. ;-).

skeezer Says:

oops autocorrect went there…Rubble….lol!

jalep Says:

RZ, Granollers is a tricky player, not an easy out, like French wild card. named Quentin Halys, ranked 296.

jalep Says:

It’s okay, his Russian nickname is “Ruble”

Aw Giorgi out. Congrats to Muguruza.

RZ Says:

Surprised that no one has picked up on the most important news story coming out of Roland Garros – the FIFA Playstation challenge!

jalep Says:

skeezer, I realize you don’t watch a whole lotta WTA but there is another Croatian to watch apart from Coric. 18 yr. old named Donna Vekic – pretty blond, ranked 165 and moving up. She won her 1st round match v the tipped to be great, Caroline Garcia (Fra,) and got a win today over #60 ranked Bojana Jovanovski.

Berdych d Stepanek in 4.
Andujar v Kohls – last atp of the day. Andujar leads by a set and it’s in a 2nd set tb. Slow start from Kohls first set, but maybe he can get some mojo going.

jalep Says:

lol, at the FIFA playstation challenge, RZ…

Diego Schartzman says he’s the boss of that :)

RZ Says:

@Jalep – I would put my money on Monfils and Murray to win that challenge. (Sorry Schwartzman!)

jalep Says:

Mee too! Money on LaMonf and Murphy, RZ.

Eric Says:

Just saw the Verdasco score… gotta feel for the guy– how do you win two sets 6-0 6-1, and go on to lose the match? Ouch.

jalep Says:

Really did think Verdasco would beat Becker in the end. Ouch is right.

Kohls was leading Pablo Andujar in the 5th set, 4-2, when their match was interrupted for darkness.

Long list of great matches tomorrow!

lyle nubbins Says:

Good points re Vilas . . . another difference with that era . . . Borg skipped Australia even at his peak. If he played today he would not have skipped it because no one does that any more. He surely could have had another 2-4 slams.

Eric Says:

The AO was obviously firmly established as a slam in Agassi’s day, but I think one can argue that it became a tournament on par with the other three only about fifteen years ago when attendance became just as absolutely de rigeur as at the USO or Wimbledon (which, admittedly, clay-court specialists sometimes skipped just as some ppl skipped AO).

KatH Says:

Anyone still interested re. Umpires v Players et al – this is a pretty good article

Okiegal Says:

@KatH……I happened on to this article last night. Glad you posted it. I wanted to but not sure how…computer illiterate. I thought it was interesting too…..especially when the guy said he was surprised it had gotten out…..of the “behind closed doors” scenario……reading between the lines…..I assumed that’s what he meant. Andy and Novak obviously was not aware this could even happen. I suppose it is a matter everyone involved would want to keep quiet. Rafa was asked the question in his presser about the rumor or whatever you want to call it and of course Rafa
answered the question. Maybe he should have kept quiet too.

Emily Says:

This umpire situation doesn’t surprise me at all, I thought everyone knew that Rafa didn’t want Bernardes to call his matches. I think it would make everyone’s lives easier to just avoid any combustible incidents and the umpires are the ones who give a list of players they would rather avoid.

Don’t know why this has become such an issue, but maybe because it was a FO press conference and now all the players are being asked this question. I could name umpires they all love and ones certain players have openly critiqued (I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bit too much). courier is just commentating because no-one is really interested in his opinion on this.

skeezer Says:

“Don’t know why this has become such an issue, ”
Its been all over sports news, the top 3 players in the world have commented on it ( and more ) negatively. Yeah, its an issue.

elina Says:

KatH thanks for this link. A very well balanced article with proper perspective.

Okiegal Says:

It’s an issue because it’s Rafa. If it had been anyone else, I doubt TX would have bothered with a thread regarding the matter. Putting down Rafa is their main goal in life….imho. Negative Rafa threads generate so many comments…..the ulterior motive….

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