No. 2 Andy Murray was the story on the men’s side Tuesday at Roland Garros, finishing off a darkness-delayed match from the day before (barely), defeating veteran Radek “The Worm” Stepanek 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.
“I fought extremely hard from a very, very difficult position,” said Murray in an emotional (for him) press conference. “Yes, I was getting frustrated, but I gave everything and got myself out of a situation that not all players would have been able to get themselves out of. So I fight through to the end in all of the matches. Yes, for sure I can make improvements on the court. No question about that. But I also do some good things, as well. I need to sometimes balance that up a little bit.”
Murray was the lone member of the Top 10 having trouble in the opening round as No. 1 Novak Djokovic rolled Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun 6-4, 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Rafael Nadal destroyed Aussie Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1; No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga handled German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; and No. 7 Tomas Berdych had an easy win over Canuck Vasek “Popsicle” Pospisil 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
“Second and third sets were really good,” said Djokovic, who will next face Steve Darcis. “I thought I found my rhythm. First set was up and down. But I’ll take the positives out of it, and I’m hoping I can progress as the tournament goes on.”
Nadal started strong in his quest to prove he hasn’t lost confidence in his abilities, dropping only three games to Groth.
“It’s obvious that it was a good start for me,” Nadal explained to the media, or maybe himself. “The most important thing that I had to do today, I did well, which was return. I played without making many mistakes…It’s great to play here in France and in Roland Garros. I feel always the support of the crowd here.”
Nadal will next face Argentine Facundo Bagnis.
Other seeded winners were No. 11 David Ferrer, No. 12 David Goffin, No. 13 Dominic Thiem who came from a set down to beat Spain’s Inigo Cervantes, No. 14 Roberto Bautista, No. 15 John Isner who came from a set down to beat Aussie John Millman, No. 20 Bernard Tomic, No. 21 Feliciano Lopez who beat Thomas Fabbiano of Italy in four, No. 25 Pablo Cuevas who beat Tobias Kamke from a set down, No. 26 Joao Sousa who beat Damir Dzumhur from a set down, and No. 29 Lucas Pouille who beat Julien Benneteau in four.
“I’m very happy about this win,” said Ferrer, entering the French Open without a clay run-up title for the first time in seven years. He will next meet Argentine Juan Monaco. “This year was not as smooth as other years, but these are things that happen. As long as I enjoy playing tennis, as long as I keep being motivated, things are okay.”
Isner, who has not scared anyone of late with his play, will next meet Brit Kyle Edmund.
“It’s a big confidence booster for me,” the American said. “I’ve had a lot of extremely close matches this year and also came into this tournament without much match play at all. There were some moments in that match that I just went AWOL a bit on my serve. Three times I lost my serve. I played some pretty poor games. I’m up 30-Love, and next thing you know, minute later I lose the game. That stuff comes with match toughness, I think. But getting through this one was crucial for me. I’m very happy to be moving on.”
Four players orchestrated upsets on the day with France’s Stephane Robert beating No. 18 Kevin Anderson in four, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro toppling No. 24 Philipp Kohlschreiber from a set down, Spain’s Pablo Carreno edging No. 31 Federico Delbonis in four, and Spain’s Marcel Granollers upsetting No. 32 Fabio Fognini in straights.
Winners of note in all-unseeded contests were France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu, Nicolas Mahut, and Quentin Halys beating Sout Korea’s Chung Hyeon in a battle of risers; Ernests Gulbis, Marcos Baghdatis beating Gilles Muller in a battle of oldies, and Croatia’s Borna Coric giving American Taylor Fritz a welcome-to-Paris 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 beating.
Halys was happy to record a win, and happy to be part of the ATP’s #NextGen campaign.
“Of course it’s great to be a part of the ‘next generation’ on the ATP,” said Halys, apparently unaware of #NewBallsPlease and Nicolas Lapentti and Mariano Zabaleta. “It’s a good motivation. I’m working hard every day and it pays off. I didn’t expect to play that well on clay so quickly, but I’m working hard. I intend to continue.”
Matches to raise the hair up on the back of your neck on Wednesday include (8) Milos Raonic vs. France’s Adrian Mannarino, (9) Richard Gasquet vs. former French juniors winner Bjorn Fratangelo, the combustible (17) Nick Kyrgios vs. Igor Sijsling, and (23) Jack Sock vs. Dustin Brown.
WEDNESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Philippe-Chatrier Court 11:00 AM Start
Simona Halep (ROU) vs. Zarina Diyas (KAZ)
Myrtille Georges (FRA) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Mathias Bourgue (FRA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Suzanne-Lenglen Court 11:00 AM Start
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) vs. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Taro Daniel (JPN) vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Caroline Garcia (FRA) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
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