By Romana Cvitkovic
Full roundup of results during day three of the French Open.
“Biggest” Loser: Serena Williams
Winning two clay court tournaments recently in Madrid and Charleston, Serena Williams was (surprisingly) the heavy favorite to win the title in Roland Garros. But it’s never that simple, right? It what will turn out to be one of the biggest first round upsets in French Open history, the number one American woman lost to Virginia Razzano, ranked 111 in the world, in a rollercoaster of a match, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Serena was the only American women to lose in the first round of the French Open among ten other American women (save Jamie Hampton who had to retire earlier in the day). Perhaps all the good fortunes Serena’s countrywomen were getting the last two days all funneled into one disappointing loss for Serena herself.
But Serena is not down and out. She suffered life-threatening trials with her health last year and saw her sister Venus diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but she always seems to find the silver-lining — even if only to keep the media from poking too deep into her emotions.
“It’s life,” Serena said. “Things could be a lot worse. I haven’t had the easiest past six months. Nothing I can’t deal with. I’m not happy, by no means. I just always think things can be worse.”
Nadal, Sharapova, Kvitova yawn their way to victory
Which one of the three above is not like the other? Judging from recent clay court titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome, Rafael Nadal’s 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 dismantling of Simone Bolelli in the first round was not unexpected. Similarly, Maria Sharapova’s recent clay court titles in Stuttgart and Rome were a mere prelude to her 6-0, 6-0 knockout of Alexandra Cadantu today.
Petra Kvitova, however, has had a surplus of ups-and-downs recently. Reaching the semifinals in Stuttgart and the quarterfinals in Rome before sputtering out of both, the reigning Wimbledon champion Kvitova has been difficult to find. That is why a 6-1, 6-2 routing of any player (even her opponent, number 332-ranked Ashleigh Barty) can be considered a temporary success. It’s a confidence booster that she spent not even an hour on court for the win, and it may give her just the kick needed to get her into the second week of the Slam. However, she had similar overpowering starts in the first three rounds of Roland Garros last year before falling in three sets to eventual champion Na Li.
Sam Querrey’s comeback cut short
After struggling with an elbow injury that required surgery last year, Sam Querrey may have a long way back to his career-high ranking of number 17. But today’s loss to world number eight Janko Tipsarevic in four sets, established a good path for his continual growth. Although his first serve percentage was stuck at 49%, he comfortably won 73% of net approaches and only nine total points less the Tipsarevic for the match! At just 24 years of age and standing at 6’6″ tall, it would do him well to look to good friend and fellow tall player John Isner for pointers on keeping your confidence.
Tommy Haas turns back time
After blazing through three rounds of qualifying, German (or is is American, or is is German?) Tommy Haas is firmly in the second round of the main draw after defeating Filippo Volandri, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. The German tennis gods must be watching his back, as he would have next taken on number 16 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov. But due to pure inspiration by Sergiy Stakhovsky to defeat fellow Ukranian Dolgopolov, Haas will next meet Stakhovsky in a match that could surely go the length.
Other notable winners
- Brit Heather Watson sails into the second round by defeating journeywoman Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the second round.
- In a battle of the young guns (can we really still call them that?), Grigor Dimitrov holds off Donald Young, 7-6(3), 6-1, 6-1.
- Caroline Wozniacki is in full stealth mode winning soundly against Eleni Daniilidou, 6-0, 6-1. After falling in the rankings to world number nine, it would do the Dane well to advance well into the second week.
- 2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone made quick work of another tour veteran, Kimiko Date-Krumm, and next faces Tsvetana Prinokova who defeated Yanina Wickmayer.
- Juan Monaco got back on track after a debilitating ankle roll in Monte Carlo, by beating Guillaume Rufin, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(3). In Rome, Monaco was a set up over Djokovic before falling in three, but clay suits his game and if his ankle holds up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the second week.
Popcorn matches to watch on Wednesday, May 30:
- Gilles Simon ranked number 11 versus new comeback player Brian Baker. Baker has come out of the shadows after a seven year hiatus due to devastating injury and has been blowing past competition, leaving Gael Monfils and Nikolay Davydenko in his rearview. If he can keep it up, it will be a comeback for the books.
- Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Venus Williams. Both ladies are playing with a lot to prove. Aga needs to show fans her consistency and Venus needs to show herself she can continue battling after her health diagnosis. It’s anybody’s game, but I feel a Venus revolution.
- 2008 French Open Ana Ivanovic will take on Shahar Peer in what could be a purely nerves-driven match for both ladies. Ivanovic is always tough on herself and difficult shots by Peer could give Ana some self-doubt. If she plays through them, she should not have a problem plowing through Peer.
- Viktor Troicki takes on possible “frenemy” and personality-twin Fabio Fognini. Who could forget their fiery exchanges on-court during the first round of Cincinnati last year that saw Fognini prevail. The tension was palpable between the two, and another on-court encounter may boost each player’s game plan for an unbelievable match. It will surely be a fun match to watch. Oh, and the tennis should be good too.