The French Open is the only Slam with a Sunday start and I personally love it for the simple reason that I get to watch more live tennis. This year’s opening day was a bit of a miserable affair with the weather but they did really well to get a full day’s play as the forecast had had rain for much of the day. Read on for the highlights from day 1 of the 2020 French Open.
Sakkari gets the job done in straights
The conditions for the first set of matches on Sunday were pretty atrocious – rain, wind and cold greeted the players! Maria Sakkari got the job done in straights as she won the last four games to beat Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-0 7-5. Sakkari didn’t let the conditions affect her in the first set, just getting on with the task at hand as Tomljanovic committed a spate of unforced errors.
Tomljanovic improved markedly in the second set and was the better player for much of it. Sakkari made some inexplicable unforced errors at times but when it really mattered, she showed her quality. From 3-5 down in the second set, Sakkari found some big serves, was more aggressive in the rallies and most importantly of all, gave Tomljanovic few gifts. Sakkari is fast becoming one of the most reliable players on the tour. I think she’s one to watch at this tournament and could be on course for her best Slam result.
Azarenka’s frustration, cruises in the end
The talking point of this match was Victoria Azarenka single-handedly forcing a stoppage after three games due to the weather conditions. I have to admit i’ve never seen anything like it in terms of the weather. The players were wrapped up for the winter and it was so, so slow! As the pair paused due to rain, a frustrated Azarenka refused to stay on court – “i’m cold, it’s eight degrees. I live in Florida. I’m used to hot weather” 😂. Azarenka asked Kovinic who agreed they shouldn’t stay out. It was a strange situation though because practically all the other matches continued.
When the pair eventually returned about half an hour later, Azarenka knucked down and actually played a decent match. Azarenka was a demon in the baseline rallies and controlled them with excellent construction of the points. Vika safely through in straights where she will play Anna Karolina Schemiedlova in the second round.
Halep’s birthday win
Simona Halep celebrated her 29th birthday with a victory as she overcame a few dicey moments in the first set before winning the last 10 games to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-4 6-0. Sorribes Tormo was twice up a break in the first set. After a slow start, Halep began to play more decisively as she hit down-the-line with intent and ripped on the fragile Sorribes Tormo serve.
A good win for Halep as she didn’t panic after going down early and soon managed to turn the match around in her favour. This could be a long, long tournament so straight set wins are ideal for maintaining energy for the later rounds.
Garcia avenges recent Kontaveit loss, another seeded upset at a Slam
15th September, Rome R1: Anett Kontaveit d. Caroline Garcia, 6-3 7-6(1)
27th September, French Open R1: Caroline Garcia d. Anett Kontaveit, 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Caroline Garcia avenged a recent loss to Anett Kontaveit, delighting the sparse crowd on the roofed Chatrier court as she twice rallied from a break down in the third set to score an impressive win.
I think this was the best quality match that I watched on day 1. Garcia was energised and aggressive in the first set. Kontaveit served much, much better in the second set and was near-perfect, producing zero unforced errors! Kontaveit seemed to have the momentum in the third set and I thought she had this one in the bag. Kontaveit lost her way as she missed too many first serves. Garcia pounced on the Kontaveit second serve as Kontaveit retreated in the rallies.
Gauff’s first RG main draw win
Coco Gauff caused the biggest seeding upset of the tournament so far, beating the number nine seed, Johanna Konta, 6-3 6-3. I only watched the first set as I couldn’t bear anymore 😫. Gauff was steady and generally served well on the big points through the first eight games. The game to serve out the first set… Gauff served five double faults but got there in the end as Konta just kept missing returns and groundstrokes into the net. It was a generally wild first set display from Konta who couldn’t find her rhythm. I think all the players deserve some slack on this day as conditions were tough.
Welcome back Dasha
Without doubt, the highlight of the day was watching a rejuvenated Daria Gavrilova knock out the number 24 seed, Dayana Yastremska, 6-4 6-3. Gavrilova has been sidelined for about a year with injuries and looked mentally and physically exhausted before she announced that she was taking a break. It was such a treat to see Gavrilova back and playing so well! She was moving brilliantly, forcing Yastremska to hit one more ball and the occasional error into the back fence 👀.
I was not confident at all when Gavrilova stepped up to serve out the match because I remember her serve had become increasingly fragile last year. She didn’t hit one double fault and her second serves were all decent! I’ve missed Gavrilova’s quirks on court like reading her notes on the changeovers and giving running commentaries after points. She seems physically and mentally refreshed, and was very positive. It was the Dasha of old and i’m thrilled to see her back.