On the second day of Roland Garros 2017, my first live match was the third set of an absorbing tussle between Elise Mertens and Daria Gavrilova out on court 3. In the end it was the world number 59, Mertens who scored a superb win over the Strasbourg finalist and number 24 seed, Gavrilova, 7-6(4) 1-6 6-4.
Gavrilova looked to have turned the third set around in her favour, winning three straight games from 1-3 to 4-3. However, it was Mertens, the very impressive Belgian who has a 25-10 W-L record in 2017, who would win the final three games. Gavrilova missed a break point at 4-4 and then backed off in the final game, relying on defensive, loopy balls which Mertens handled very well.
I missed the first two hours of tennis spending time with family and visiting a windmill! In the process, I managed to teach my nieces how to pronounce Garbiñe Muguruza… better than some of the commentators 😂😂😂.
Muguruza was first up on Philippe Chatrier and we were following on live scores! The Spaniard enjoyed an impressive first round win against the always-dangerous-on-clay, Francesca Schiavone. Battling through a final game of four deuces, Muguruza won 6-2 6-4. A great start for Muguruza (about to watch in full now!), but she’ll need to maintain her level and then some as she’ll face the in-form, Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
In other early matches, Caroline Wozniacki, Kiki Bertens and CiCi Bellis all advanced to the second round in three set wins. Wozniacki lost a set to the 17-year-old Australian wildcard, Jaimee Fourlis.
Back to the afternoon and it was a typical early Slam day where so much was happening and I was court jumping on the Eurosport Player. Karolina Pliskova and Sam Stosur both survived tight first sets to win in straights.
Pliskova’s first round opponent, Zheng Saisai served for the first set at *5-4 – the Chinese player didn’t have margins in mind as she went too big on the key points when trying to wrap up the set. Pliskova won nine of the last 11 games to win, 7-5 6-2 out on Suzanne Lenglen court.
The Strasbourg champion, Sam Stosur saved a set point in the first set of her match against Kristina Kucova. Admittedly, “saved” is not the right word as Kucova served up a double fault when serving at *5-4 *Adv-40. Stosur eventually broke back with a gorgeous chase to a Kucova drop shot, dinking the ball back over the net for a winner. Stosur dropped just one more game to post a 7-5 6-1 first round victory.
Stosur is certainly one to watch this week and she’s got a well earnt day off before her second rounder on Wednesday.
In a tortuous match, the heavily tipped number 13 seed, Kristina Mladenovic had a big escape against Jennifer Brady. It was clear before the match began that something was not quite right with Mladenovic. I expected some nerves but she seemed to be stretching her back. She looked stiff and rigid, and her serve didn’t have the pop that it normally does. It came as no surprise when Mladenovic took a medical time-out after just three games.
Credit to Mladenovic who didn’t throw in the towel and kept fighting. After coming back from a set down, Mladenovic recovered from 0-3 down in the final set and accepted a lot of gifts from the American. Playing against an injured player is not as easy as it would seem. Brady hung around though with Mladenovic twice failing to serve out the match and twice arguing line calls at length with the umpire, Julie Kjendlie. Mladenovic eventually sealed the win on her third try, 3-6 6-3 9-7.
A fine effort from Kiki but she is unlikely to be a title contender with the dodgy back. Goodness knows how it will be after this brutal two hours and 59 minute drama-fest. Add to that, she plays Sara Errani in the next round who had a good first round win over a fading and injured, Misaki Doi.
I have great memories from watching Lucie Safarova on court 2… sadly today was not a good day as the former finalist was knocked out in the first round by Veronica Cepede Royg. Full credit to Cepede Royg who was almost flawless for a set and a half, quickly going up 6-1 5-0 in a flash and outplaying Safarova with superior depth and dynamism. There didn’t seem to be any injury of kind but Lucie had a bad day, making a lot of errors, particularly on return, and not moving so well.
When serving for the match, Cepede Royg suddenly began to hit errors and feel the nerves. Safarova reeled off four games in a row. I sensed the comeback was on but the door was quickly shut as Cepede Royg served out the match to love at the third time of asking. Cepede Royg advances to a second round tie with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who played just eight games with Patricia-Maria Tig, who could barely move, retiring hurt.
I’ll just cheer myself up with a happy memory from Lucie on Court 2.
In other notable matches…
Carina Witthoeft upset the number 25 seed, Lauren Davis, 2-6 6-3 6-3. This was a rare bright moment for Germany in what has been a rough start to the tournament.
Richel Hogenkamp extended her winning streak to 14 by beating Jelena Jankovic, 6-2 7-5. I’m sad to see JJ barely winning matches this year. I don’t want to say it but i’m worried we might not see her again at RG.
Magdalena Rybarikova ousted the number 19 seed, CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1 6-4. Rybarikova made her comeback to the tour in February following surgeries on her wrist and knee, and arrived in RG on a ten match winning streak. This was her first match on clay though!
The number 32 seed, Zhang Shuai snapped a six match losing streak with a hard fought, 7-5 6-4 win over Donna Vekic.
Francoise Abanda and Ons Jabeur won their first ever Slam main draw matches to reach the second round of Roland Garros.
And finally, the number 14 seed, Elena Vesnina staved off a late fightback from qualifier, Beatriz Haddad Maia to snap a four match losing streak with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 win in fading light.
I’m enjoying Roland Garros but the anticipation is already ramping up for Wimbledon too! Check out an interesting infographic from Wimbledon Debenture Holders showing how Wimbledon has evolved over the years.
And finally, the first round of Roland Garros will conclude on Tuesday with the Rome finalists, Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep both playing their first matches. My match of the day is second up on court 2 between Madison Keys and Ashleigh Barty. I’m off work on Tuesday so am planning to watch a lot of tennis!