Roland Garros 2021: The opening week

Sinner escapes a tricky Herbert!

For the first time in his career the young Italian, Jannik Sinner has won a best of five set match in tough conditions out on Court Suzanne Lenglen against Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert.

It was a wonderful start from Sinner who was ruthless in the opening set and almost bageled the 30 year old but he got the board to steady the ship.

He did react well to the crowd support which is always a bonus for French players in Paris and it showed in the second and third sets which were a complete contrast from the level of Herbert in the opener.

Credit where it is due once again to the impressive teenager who never seems fazed by the challenge in front of him and put on a performance of a seasoned pro to see off Herbert in 3 hours and 33 minutes winning, 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 and saving match point!

Kenin digs deep and secures a much needed win over Ostapenko

Out of everything that has happened in the early rounds at Roland Garros, this match was the most important for me.

I am very happy for Sofia Kenin, she was on a rough run of form coming into Paris, a lot has been said which has been unfair but the fight in her game was excellent to watch as she won a feisty three set battle against former champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Kenin was harsh on herself in the match especially in the third set despite being up a double break and even though the American squandered one break she remained composed when it mattered.

I do think she deserves a lot of credit for the way she played and fought. I remember going into Roland Garros last year she lost 0-6 0-6 to Vika in Rome and went and made the final in Paris. She bounces back well and well done to her for the big win!

Musetti Magic on debut

It is weird to think it is Lorenzo Musetti’s Grand Slam debut but the 19 year old performed as if he has been doing this for years in a super composed and controlled performance over David Goffin.

I like David but I did have a feeling that Lorenzo would come through. The first set was flawless, the teenager badgered the Belgian on serve and bageled him in a quick opening set. Goffin did recover and began to play better, the most impressive thing though was how Musetti continued to play at a high level.

It can be tough winning a set 6-0 and then staying on top but the Italian’s level was soo good and when it mattered at the end of the second set.

In the third set I did feel like Goffin was finding his feet but every time he looked to make a move on the set the Italian found a way and as the crowd begun to leave due to the curfew we saw Musetti win the tie-break to win in straight sets.

Not only was it a good debut for the Italian but it continued in good fashion with a straight sets win this time over the always energetic Yoshihito Nishioka winning a close set 7-5 and then only dropping five more games to seal his second win in Paris.

14 in a row, Kalinina takes out Kerber on Day 1!

Angie Kerber’s record in Paris has not been great over the last six years having gone out in round one except for in 2018 when the German made the quarter finals.

The three time major champion fell before midday in Paris on the opening Sunday to qualifier from Ukraine.

Anhelina has played qualifying in Paris for five consecutive years but this year the 29th seed came through to qualifying for the French Open for the first time in her career. She is ranked at 139 in the world and has been in very good form of late. With her 6-2 6-4 win over Angie Kerber the 24 year old extends her winning run to 14 matches having won back to back ITF titles before playing in qualifying the last few days.

A wonderful story to kick off Roland Garros welcoming a small but noisy number of fans from day one!

Paula Badosa’s good form continues

Paula Badosa won the junior event in Paris in 2015 and Spaniard’s in France usually find success and the in-form Spaniard who has now won 14 of her 16 matches on the clay courts this season.

Fresh off her title win in Serbia the Spaniard impressed against a tough opponent in Lauren Davis. The American plays with great power, we have often seen her soak up the power and unleash on opponents but there was an air of control and composure from the 23 year old.

Barty retires mid-match similarly to her Rome exit

Up a set against Coco Gauff in Rome the Aussie retired with a left thigh issue and despite coming through a tough three set battle with Bernarda Pera the world number one has pulled out of the event with the same issue.

Right now it is a fight to be fit for Wimbledon for the number one who was playing in Paris for the first time since 2019 when she won her first Grand Slam title.

Barty said on her withdrawal:

‘We did everything possible but we ran out of time, which sucks … For my body to let me down is really disheartening.

‘We did nothing wrong in the lead-up. There were no red flags. It was just an acute episode, which is tough.’

“We have had — I mean, I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. It’s all good. Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually. Once I find out what that is, it’ll make me feel a little bit better. But it will be there, I’m sure.”

Kvitova saves match point in close couple of sets with Minnen before a bizarre injury ruled her out

Petra Kvitova is safely through to round two at Roland Garros following a bit of a worry in the second set down match point but the Czech came through to force a tie-break, dominated and then in the third went on a mission.

It was a wonderful performance from the qualifier Minnen who played superbly for two close sets lasting just under 2 hours and being decided on a tie-beak but that match point that got away de-railed the Belgian and Kvitova’s clean hitting was quite exceptional when it mattered the most.

The performance might be what Petra needed to kick off her tournament and maybe dust off any cobwebs. She played well but didn’t put herself in trouble with double faults and over-cooking some forehands but when she needed a big point she dug it out and dug out a big win on Day 1!

Credit to both for a wonderful match, 6-7 7-6 6-1 Kvitova.

Unfortunately that was that for Petra Kvitova who twisted her ankle in her press conference and had to withdraw from the tournament.

Thiem tumbles from 2 sets up against Andujar

Just a week or so ago the 35 year old Spaniard, Pablo Andujar spoiled the party in Geneva from 2-4 down in the third set against Roger Federer to beat the 20 time major champion.

His quest in Paris was the most recent member of the Grand Slam club, Dominic Thiem. Dominic has not had ideal preparations for Paris but from two sets up it seemed like a place in round two was on the cards.

Pablo had different ideas. He hadn’t won a match at Roland Garros since 2015. His highest ranked win in a major was against Kohlschreiber in 2015 (ranked 28) but has taken apart the world number four in phenomenal style.

There was a lapse in concentration from Dominic Thiem but this should be all about Pablo Andujar who took his game to another level, he kept up with the speed of Thiem, soaked up pressure and put the Austrian on the back foot.

You did wonder in the fifth set whether Thiem would sneak away from the Spaniard have grabbed back an early break of serve but he dug in and the situation he found himself in didn’t faze him.

After 4 hours and 24 minutes he found himself serving for the match.

A wonderful match ending in a perfect way for the Spaniard who won from two sets down for the first time in his career!

Andreescu and Bertens exit despite a good fight!

I didn’t expect either player to go too far in this draw having not seen Andreescu on a court or a clay court much this year and the same for Kiki Bertens who has struggled with injuries of late but both put up a good fight.

For both players it is just a matter of time before we see them at their best, credit to Hercog and Zidansk their respective opponents who did have to dig deep!

From 1-6 down the 16th seed who was champion in Madrid back in 2019 was soo close in the deciding set but squandered her service game at 4-4 and that was that for Bertens.

Andreescu ended up staying on court for 201 minutes as she lost a fiercely close battle 7-6 6-7 7-9 to Tamara Zidansk. It was good to see the fight from Bianca but a shame her run didn’t last too long. It is a case of the one that got away for Andreescu.

The Canadian served for the match at 5-4 in the third and even at 7-7 she has two break points but the 23 year old from Slovenia held strong before going onto break herself to win in a thrilling fashion!

Alcaraz moves into R3 for the first time

Having made his debut in 2020 for some reason the Spanish teenager still had to come through qualifying this year which I didn’t understand…

However, the Spaniard has come through the opening two rounds without too much of a problem dropping just the one set in his opening round win over Zapata Miralles.

Against the 28th seed, Basilashvili the Spaniard was in cruise control dropping just 10 games in a 6-4 6-2 6-4 win setting up a meeting with Jan Lennard Struff.

Cam Norrie continues to fly the British flag in singles

Following round one exits for Johanna Konta, Dan Evans and Heather Watson the lone Brit left standing in the singles was Cameron Norrie.

Cam was one of my ones to watch coming into Roland Garros with 14 wins in 18 on the clay and two final appearances in Lyon and Estoril. Following impressive victories over Bjorn Frantangelo and a four set win from a set down over Lloyd Harris who is having his best season the Brit is now into round three and will meet a player called Rafael Nadal…

Iga Świątek extends her unbeaten Paris run

On her birthday in round one the new member of the top 10, Iga Swiatek who was champion last Autumn in Paris won her opening match against Kaja Juan 6-0 7-5. It was a little trickier than expected after a runaway first set but the Pole progressed and maintained her composure on her 20th Birthday.

There was no Birthday hangover on Thursday as the defending champion extended her winning run in Paris to 9 wins and 18 consecutive sets dropping just the two games in her second round match with a 6-1 6-1 win over Rebecca Peterson.

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