Roger Federer was happy with his 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Peter Luczak on Monday: “It was like a perfect match to get off the French Open campaign, really.” he said after the match. Great!
Richard Gasquet played a perfect two sets against Andy Murray later in the day, but – with painful predictability – the Frenchman flamed out in front of his home crowd. I tuned in to the match at the beginning of the third set, saw that Gasquet was up two sets and immediately thought, “Ah, poor Richard.” FoxNews explains my gut reaction: Gasquet has lost 9 out of his last 10 five set matches. Murray has come back from two sets to love down three times before, including an inspiring win over Gasquet at the 2008 Wimbledon.
But to give both of these guys some credit – Richard has been on a tear, beating Verdasco in the finals of Nice on Saturday and winning a challenger in Bordeaux before that (he played 10 matches in 13 days going into Paris.) Gasquet drew one hell of a first round in Paris and played tough, top 10 caliber tennis for most of the match. All considered, he can legitimately point to his sore knee instead of his head after this one. As for Andy Murray, he was offered every opportunity to go home early – he was down in that third set tiebreak and pulling all kinds of sarcastic, “can you believe this shit?” faces at his box – yet he stuck it out. Perhaps this win will reignite the fire in his belly.
Gasquet and Murray played 48 games in their first round match. So? American qualifier Michael Yani and Slovakian Lukas Lacko played 71, tying the record for most games ever played at the tournament since tiebreaks were incorporated in 1973. (The match was suspended due to darkness on Sunday at 8-8 in the fifth set.) Lacko eventually won the encounter 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 12-10. The AP has a funny piece about the match, including this quote:
“Ridiculous,” [the 29-year-old] Yani said, cracking open a can of caffeine-rich soda. “I’ve never gotten to a fifth set before, so, I mean, that was pretty cool, I’m not going to lie—to go that deep into a fifth.”
He sighed, before adding: “I wish I could have closed it out.”
Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent and John Isner scored wins for the American men on Monday. Isner took on the classic Americans on Clay question in his post-match presser:
JOHN ISNER: It’s not our best surface per se; that’s probably hardcourt. But I think three, four, five people even have the ability of making to the second week (at Roland Garros.)
Q. Am I right in assuming you put yourself in that group?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah.
Men’s seeds that made it through on Monday: Djokovic (in four sets, vs. Korolev), Gael Monfils, Stanislas Wawrinka, Thomaz Bellucci, Fernando Gonzalez, Ivan Ljubicic, Marcos Baghdatis, Nicolas Almagro, and Tomas Berdych.
Tommy Robredo (l. to Troicki) and Feliciano Lopez (l. to Reister) decided there were too many Spaniards in the draw.
Serena Williams beat Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 7-6 (2), 6-2 in her first round match. She offered up a bouquet of Serena-isms afterwards:
Q. How did you feel about your first match of this year’s French Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely didn’t feel good about it. At least I won. I think I’m still in the tournament; that’s what matters.
Q. What were you not pleased with?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Across the board, nothing, really, just to be honest.
Q. In the first set there were a couple break points, but you came through with some very strong serving. Is that sort of always in the back of your mind that if other things go wrong, that you do have a tremendous serve that can help you out of tight spots?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I guess. I didn’t think about that today. I just thought let’s hit an ace here. So I don’t think about whether it’s good or not or that I have a great serve that’s gonna get me out of trouble.
Maybe I should think about that more often.
Q. Caroline Wozniacki is the only teenager in the top 25 in the WTA. Why do you think that is?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think pretty much everyone got older and aged. I was also a teenager once. I was in the top 25, but I ended up getting older, unfortunately. It’s inevitable.
The teenager had an easier time of it on Monday than Serena did, Wozniacki taking out Alla Kudryavtseva 6-0, 6-3. It was a breeze for most of the seeds: Jankovic, Dementieva, Radwanska, Li and Stosur all won in straights.
Ana Ivanovic, champion in 2008, unseeded in 2010, enjoyed a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Kai-Chen Chang on Monday. She had some really interesting things to say in her post-match presser about her fall from the top and her fight to return to the top. Here’s a particularly uplifting section (via rolandgarros.com):
Q. Do you find yourself fighting with the doubts that you can be an elite player again?
ANA IVANOVIC: I have no doubt about it. I really feel I belong to the top and I can get back to the top. It’s just the little steps and trusting myself when I’m out there, when I’m hitting the ball, you know, just trusting the movement and that stroke, you know, rather than pulling back and, you know, and in my serve, actually committing, because I’m serving you know, I was serving great past few weeks. It’s been a huge improvement. Then sometimes I still doubt it.
So I think it’s also a process of just doing it over and over again until it becomes a habit.
From Sunday, a funny moment from Gulibs. Too bad he’s out of the tournament already:
Q. What would you have to do to prove there was a really big deal if you just smashed a racquet and that’s not a big deal, what would be a really big deal?
ERNESTS GULBIS: What would be a really big deal? Hmm. I don’t know. I have to think. That’s a good question, actually. Thank you. (laughter.) I don’t know what would be a big deal. Minimum three racquets smashed, throw them to the stands, hit somebody with a ball. I don’t know. I have to think about it. I’ll get back on you, yeah. I’ll think about it.
There’s a fun interview with Flavia Pennetta at RolandGarros.com. A quick sample:
Q: If you were a car?
Flavia: A Porsche 911. Fast and sexy…
And if she was a moment in history, she says she’d be the “feminist movement.” There’s a double entendre in there, somewhere.
In action on Tuesday: Rafael Nadal, Justine Henin, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina and Fernando Verdasco.