Set Points, French Open Day 1: Kvitova survives Kovinic, Safarova beats the rain

The opening day of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros was a rain-drenched affair as just ten singles matches were completed. In fact, it was much better than expected as the weather forecast had implied there was a strong possibility of a complete washout. The only match to be completed on Phillipe Chatrier staked an early claim for match of the tournament although it doesn’t have much to compete with right now! Read on for Sunday’s Set Points from Roland Garros…

Set PointsWhen Petra Kvitova and Danka Kovinic last played at Indian Wells, Kovinic came within two points of winning the match. Kvitova eventually won, 6-3 4-6 7-6(5). It was a case of déjà vu in Paris as Kovinic was once again just two points from the win but Kvitova battled back to survive, winning through, 6-2 4-6 7-5. Kvitova had led 6-2 *3-0 *40-15 at one point before Kovinic clawed her way back into contention, sealing the set with a gorgeous drop shot-lob combo. Kvitova didn’t play a bad set but became noticeably tight towards the end of it as Kovinic’s level improved dramatically.

In a high quality third set, Kvitova buckled on serve at 4-4, committing three double faults and two in a row to give Kovinic the opportunity to serve for the match. Kovinic saved a break point to get to deuce. The Montenegrin player forced Kvitova out wide with another excellent serve; drawn into the net by Kvitova’s short return, Kovinic didn’t react quick enough and played it straight back to Kvitova who found the pass. To be fair to Kovinic I think it was more difficult than it looked but still, a huge opportunity missed.

Kvitova broke and then won the last two games; she found some first serves in the game at 5-5 and some lines too, hitting a rasping forehand winner to set up match point. For P3tra, it was a narrow escape but a hugely rewarding victory.

Last year’s Roland Garros finalist, Lucie Safarova barely beat the rain to book her place in the second round, defeating Vitalia Diatchenko, 6-0 6-2. Lucie dropped just two points on her first serve and was solid from the baseline. She kept her cool against an erratic opponent in Diatchenko who finished with 27 unforced errors. One down, six more to go! 🙂

While we are on the topic of Lucie, here’s a lovely interview with Lucie and Beth. I loved the bit where Beth talked about learning how to pronounce Lucie’s name correctly!

And two more excellent articles where Lucie talks in detail about the bacterial infection and reactive arthritis that has affected her over the last ten months. She’s done amazingly to come back and I can’t speak more about my admiration for her attitude towards everything that she has been through.

And I love this picture of Lucie and Vika from yesterday!

Safarova will play Viktorija Golubic in the second round after the Swiss player won her first ever Slam main draw match. Golubic defeated Alison Riske, 6-2 1-6 6-2. Golubic wreaked havoc in the recent Fed Cup tie against the Czech Republic, coming from a set down to beat both Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova. Qualifiers are always dangerous so it will no doubt be a much tougher match for Lucie.

The seeds went three out of three on day one as Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova dropped just two games in a convincing 6-2 6-0 victory against the qualifier, Sara Sorribes Tormo. The only other winner on day 1 was Su-Wei Hsieh who defeated Lara Arruabarrena, 7-6(6) 6-3. The Spaniard twice failed to serve out the first set and also had a set point in the tiebreak.

Three WTA matches are in progress and all of them into a third set. The number 13 seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova leads Yaroslava Shvedova, 3-1 in the decider after Shvedova had played a blinding opener, hitting 23 winners. The matches featuring Gibbs-Watson and Buyukakcay-Sasnovich will both resume on Monday.

The doubles draw was announced on Sunday… OMG TAKE ME TO PARIS NOW!

Lovee this!

And finally, here’s a fitting picture to sum up day 1 of the 2016 French Open. Here’s hoping for less rain and more tennis on day 2!

Screencap photo by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography.

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17 thoughts on “Set Points, French Open Day 1: Kvitova survives Kovinic, Safarova beats the rain

  1. The commentator (Bartoli) was way over critical of Kvitova. I thought she was largely superb and it was only the double faults which let her down. Kovinic played some magnificent tennis and Petra did well to grind out the win.
    Really pleased for Lucie and hope she beats the Czech slayer in round 2.
    Nervously hoping that Kuznetsova pulls through. Why does she always land these marathon matches early in Roland Garros?!

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    • Yes I noticed that, I thought the third set was superb. I also didn’t agree with Bartoli’s assessment in the first set that Kovinic doesn’t have a stand-out shot. I think the backhand is great… the issue IMO is that she just seems to go through patches of really erratic play. I had a feeling Kuznetsova was in for a tough match despite Shvedova having lost her last couple of matches. I think you felt the same!

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      • I did, my heart stopped when I saw her draw. I had a feeling it would be someone like Shvedova.

        Bartoli is ridiculous sometimes for somebody so intelligent. She contradicts herself multiple times during matches.
        I did not like, however, her being asked by Mark Petchy why she thought Amelie Mauresmo made a statement yesterday saying Murray was difficult to work with. That’s very classless of him considering Marion and Amelie have been friends for so long. Not that I expect more from Petchy.

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  2. James, if my memory is right, the court Nastia played on was the same as vs Lucie last year right? I remember that steps-as-roof structure

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  3. If my memory is correct it is the first time Sveta has played Shvedova.When Sveta got her serve going the rest of her game followed suit,she started to move the ball around well and in the 2nd set Shvedova had no answer.Sveta got the early break in the 3rd set,then the rain came Boo.In regards to Bartoli and her commentary I just ‘mute her’.

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      • Yeah i find it hard to watch matches back during Slams which is one of the reasons why TennisTV is so good with the catch-up function.

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    • Haha not a lot of love for Marion! It depends what mood I’m in, sometimes I don’t mind her and she can provide insightful commentary but other times she’s frustrating, particularly when she talks during points.

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  4. I usually mute the telly and listen to radio Roland Garros, except for the final matches for both men and women. The stream is usually ahead of the tv broadcast anyway.

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  5. Boom! Kuznetsova toughs it out. As I write this Halep, Pliskova, Vesnina all in good positions for the win.
    And did anybody watch the Muguruza match because I’d love to know what happened there?! Is Schmiedlova finding some form again? 🙂

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    • Both Karolina’s lost. I think the rain delay partly allowed her a foot in by subduing Garbine’s play at the start.
      Hers was the more aggressive start in the first, Muguruza’s inability to find her rhythm only boosted her fight. It did allow glimpses of the brilliant Anna Karolina from last year, but she is still short of that form. That form would’ve have been able to lock Garbine out, given her struggles. The second set was when Garbine dug in and basically rolled back the tide and with it, Schmiedlova’s fight. Her rhythm secured, you know Muguruza was going for the kill. I would say Anna’s game is returning but her mind/confidence needs some more time, it’s been one tough loss after another this year. You can tell from her facial expressions. I’m glad she’s trying to work her way back though.

      The rain delays should they continue may start affecting the play of some of the competitiors since rhythm on clay is quite important. I think it allowed Heather’s comeback against Nicole Gibbs. Matches could actually swing based on this. Halep was rather fleet footed and confident, good sign I guess. Radwanska coming through should make for an interesting time with Garcia.

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      • A step in the right direction for Schmiedlova but still hard to fathom what’s happened this year. I think it will still take a lot of time but I really hope she works it out.

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    • Eeep Pliskova didn’t continue! Good win for Kuznetsova. Saw the start of Muguruza, she was error-strewn but it was the best i’ve seen Schmiedlova play this year. That’s not saying much but her serve was actually a serve.

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  6. Ecstatic about Garcia winning. I only caught the last game in work but it was impressive, gutsy play. The second round match with Aga could be verrry interesting!

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  7. Given the weather conditions, I dont think playing conditions would be too dissimilar from Rome, it seems hard hitters will thrive again, and those who can deal well with the pesky rain delay periods. Players like Serena should try to go for quick straight sets I think.

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