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French Open findings - days 1 and 2

Roland Garros Day 1.
by Alexandra Willis
Monday 27 May 2013

The year's second Grand Slam has finally arrived. Here are Wimbledon.com's thoughts on the best of the first two days' action...

Hankering after Grand Slam action
There's been no shortage of drama on tour since the Australian Open - Rafa's return, Federer's hair cut, Sloane and Serena-gate, winning streaks, losing streaks and more. But it's easy to forget the thrills and spills of Grand Slam tennis until you are right back in it. And the first two days of the French Open 2013 have thrown the tennis world right back into that Grand Slam feeling.

Marathon matches
No more evident was that than in the last passages of play on Monday night, which saw Gael Monfils upset fifth seed Tomas Berdych in dramatic fashion. Monfils, a former Roland Garros semi-finalist, played with as much free abandon as he had taken when selecting his eclectic wardrobe, going two sets to love up on Berdych. Mr H&M fought back, but Monfils found some nerves from somewhere, clinging on to win 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 in four hours and two minutes.

"It's magical here, it's a place where I feel good, where I manage to transcend myself," said Monfils. Not only that, Gael Monfils 'knows how to dance,' says Andy Murray. 

Berdych, meanwhile, adds to the somewhat dubious statistic, that for the seventh year in a row, he's lost in the first round of a Grand Slam.

Gilles Simon, who contested an unfathomable match against Monfils at the Australian Open, survived a five-setter of his own, against the still-not-retiring Lleyton Hewitt. A barnstorming 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5 victory for the Frenchman in three hours and 19 minutes, Hewitt's exit means only three Grand Slam champions remain in the men's draw.

The scare
Rightly so, much of this year's French Open buildup has surrounded Rafael Nadal, who has reached eight finals out of the eight tournaments he's played since returning to the tour, and won six of them. But the defending champion suffered quite the scare in his first bout of business, as Daniel Brands did his best to channel Lukas Rosol, and took a set off Nadal. Rafa rallied, but it was hard work. 

Crusing along
Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Caroline Wozniacki, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Richard Gasquet, Serena Williams, Sara Errani, to name the big names, made things look all-too-easy.  

Pause for thought
Venus Williams was on the wrong end of a dogged display by Urszula Radwanska, the former world No.1 ousted in three titanic sets by Agnieszka's younger sister, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4. Venus later revealed that she has lost all power, and therefore confidence, in her serve. Could it be the last time we see Venus on Parisian red clay? One hopes not. But time marches on. 

Technology
What to do when you disagree with a line call on clay? In the absence of Hawk-Eye, take a photo of your own. At least, that's what Sergiy Stakhovsky did.  

Wonder story
That of Zuzana Kucova. Aged almost 31, without a world ranking, having never been ranked inside the world's top 100 and never won a main draw match at a Grand Slam, the Slovak knocked out Julia Goerges, the 24th seed, 7-6 (10-8) 6-0.  

Remember him
Nick Kyrgios. Afforded his first Grand Slam main draw spot when compatriot John Millman was forced to withdraw, the 18-year-old Australian made the most of the coveted reciprocal wild card, knocking out the wily and vastly-experienced Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (13-11).

Other upsets
Nadia Petrova, the 11th seed, will be leaving Paris after losing to Monica Puig,

Did you know?
Serena Williams owns a flat in Paris. Mais oui.
"My friend Val is taking a painting class," she said after her first-round victory. " I said 'wow, that sounds so French, you go to Paris and you paint and you meet someone'. That would be really cool. I was, like, I want to get in the class. I ended up going to a painting class. It was fun. Really random. I'm probably the worst artist alive. So I didn't do so well, but it was really, really, really fun."

Thread-watch
Sloane Stephens is resplendent in a very neon yellow from Nike. It works.  

Coming up on Tuesday

Philippe Chatrier

Marion Bartoli v Olga Govortsova
Novak Djokovic v David Goffin 
Nicolas Mahut v Janko Tipsarevic
Victoria Azarenka v Elena Vesnina 

Suzanne Lenglen

Tommy Haas v Guillaume Rufin 
Benoit Paire v Marcos Baghdatis
Petra Kvitova v Aravane Rezai

Other notables 

Kimiko Date-Krumm v Sam Stosur (Court 1)
Jelena Jankovic v Daniela Hantuchova (Court 2)
Marina Erakovic v Elena Baltacha (Court 3)
Bernard Tomic v Victor Hanescu (Court 6)
Alejandro Falla v Grigor Dimitrov (Court 17) 

Follow the French Open live on ITV and at rolandgarros.com
 


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20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.

20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...

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