Top Players Roundup:
Nadal gave up only five games while cruising past Simone Bolleli. Rafa was solid from start to finish and Bolleli never really had a chance. He had moments of good play, but couldn’t stay with Rafa at all in any part of the match. Djokovic and Federer each coasted through their first-round matches. They did not play their absolute best nor did they need to. Each had a shaky bit (Federer in the second set, Djokovic in the first), but both did more than enough to get into the second round untroubled.
Andy Murray met a bit of a scare in the second set of his match, but it was smooth sailing other than that. Murray was a bit tentative and not great on the attack, but he did enough to let his opponent implode and had an overall easy victory. David Ferrer took care of business with a routine win over Lukas Lacko. Ferrer wasn’t great but, like the other top players, he didn’t have to be. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga struggled against Andrey Kuznetsov, which wasn’t entirely unexpected. It would have been unfair to expect Tsonga to get very far here and it would still be unfair now.
Who Looked Good:
1. John Isner- Isner’s serve was absolutely lethal. Dutra Da Silva won only 9 points off of Isner’s serve that entire match. Isner got almost 75% of his first serves in and only lost 4 of his 52 first serves. He put up some unreal statistics. His return and baseline games, as always, can still use improvement, but he is looking in dangerous form and his serve will be very tough to break if he can keep this up.
2. Milos Raonic- Raonic slaughtered Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, even if the stats don’t quite show it. Raonic played very well from the baseline and his serve was very hard to touch. Ramizrez-Hidalgo had a few chances in the first set, but it was all Raonic after that. Raonic is starting to look dangerous and should have a pretty routine second-round match against Jesse Levine to really round into form for the deeper rounds of this tournament.
3. Tomas Berdych- Yes, it was against Dudi Sela. No, Sela is not known for having done anything on clay, ever (though that seems to be just a confidence issue; when Sela plays well on clay it’s quite pretty usually). Still, the beatdown that Berdych put on him shows that he is here to play and not messing around. This match sent a message to the field that Berdych wants to be a serious contender here.
4. Brian Baker- Baker may have been exhausted on Saturday in his loss to Nicolas Almagro in the Nice final, but he sure didn’t show it on Monday. Baker played very well, controlled the rallies, and kept his nerve to win two teibreaks over Xavier Malisse, a solid veteran in his own right. Baker will have a chance against Gilles Simon on Wednesday. Let’s see if he can make the most of this opportunity.
Who Looked Bad:
1. Andy Roddick- It is no surprise that Roddick gets his name in this column here. In fact, I was impressed that he even won a set off of Nicolas Mahut. Roddick seems to no longer care or even really try on clay. And from a former Grand Slam champion (or anyone, really), that’s just unacceptable. If you’re going to show up, you may as well try to compete. Roddick didn’t throw in this match or anything, but he definitely didn’t give it his all. I don’t care what the surface is, Andy Roddick should never get broken 7 times in a match; and certainly not against a player with as bad a return as Mahut. Without a win here, Roddick is now in serious danger of being unseeded at Wimbledon.
2. Radek Stepanek- Stepanek has not been on top of his game recently, that’s for sure. Still, a match against David Goffin is not one that he should lose. He was up a break in both the fourth and fifth sets but couldn’t hold serve enough for it to matter. Stepanek may be getting older, but his Grand Slam results have been very lackluster. He wants a few good runs to help round out his career. Consistent first-round losses won’t get you those.
3. Jurgen Melzer- Melzer just hasn’t found good tennis recently. He is a far cry from his 2010 form, where he made the semifinals of Roland Garros. He got out to a decently-smooth 2 sets to love lead over Michael Berrer, and then he just fell apart. Melzer is a bit injured, so this could be excused, but if you’re healthy enough to compete the match and not risk aggravating an injury, then a top 30 player should be healthy enough to win more than 7 games over 3 sets against Michael Berrer.
4. Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr.- Many people have a lot of very high expectations of Dolgopolov. And they’re not without reason. When his game is on he is very, very good. He looked great in practice this week and really had a chance to go far with this draw. He just couldn’t do it. A first-round loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky is an incredibly disappointing result here.
Match of the Round:
In a match that stretched to the second day, Kevin Anderson beat Rui Machado 11-9 in the fifth set. Machado played well throughout and really did a good job to get himself a few chances to break Anderson’s big serve. Anderson kept his nerve though and really came through in the fifth. He was down 5-2 and saved 4 match points (in 3 different games) to move on into the second round. And while the match lacked the major emotional feel that a lot of these Grand Slam five-setters have, it was still a good and exciting match to watch.
What to Watch for in Round 2:
I’m excited to see Juan Carlos Ferrero against Marin Cilic. Cilic looks to be playing well, though nowhere near his form of a few years ago. Ferrero looks healthy again, and he is dangerous when he is healthy. This match has to potentital to not only be an upset, but to be a great match as well. Brian Baker will meet Gilles Simon. Baker, of course, is basically starting his career over after lots of injuries and surgeries. An upset over the #2 Frenchman would be big for his confidence and popularity, and he really does have the game to pull it off if he’s not too exhausted. Marcos Baghdatis against Nicolas Almagro is also a match with good potential, as both played very well in their respective first-round matches.
Tommy Haas has a real chance to reach the third round here, especially since he will no meet Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round. Cedrik Marcel-Stebe looks in pretty good form now and is against a struggling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There is some definite upset and great match potential in that one, which will be on Court Lenglen on Wednesday. The big question is how will Stebe handle his first ever occasion on a big court like that. And how can we forget Fabio Fognini? He played a good match to cruise into the second round, and now will meet Viktor Troicki, a player who has been known to choke in the past. Could that setup be any more perfect?
Malek Jaziri has probably qualified for the Olympics with his first-round win here at Roland Garros.
Adrian Ungur will probably qualify for the Olympics if he can upset Roger Federer in the second round.
David Goffin can put himself in good position to qualify for the Olympics if he wins two more matches here at Roland Garros.