So, the defending champion has fallen at the first hurdle. Jelena Ostapenko is out, losing to Kateryna Kozlova 7/5 6/3. It was a poor performance from the Latvian all in all. She did come into the event with a leg injury picked up during her loss in Rome to Sharapova. 48 unforced tells a story of its own.
Jo Konta has also been sent packing by Yulia Putintseva. She was erratic today and still hasn’t won a main draw match in Paris. Her interview after was particularly refreshing. When asked about the negativity surrounding her record at RG she flipped the question back on reporters. Basically saying she wanted to prove “these bastards wrong”. You know me I love a bit of honesty and this just racks up brownie points with me. I make her right too. I know the press need a story but it is unnecessary pressure on our best female player (for quite some time). Now to the focal point of her season, as she heads back to the UK. I imagine with the points she has to defend that pressure will mount from the press. I have her back anyways.
Venus has also gone on the first day, losing to Qiang Wang. Wang’s consistency won the day here. She said herself she played the big points well. Like Jo, Venus can now dust down those grass court trainers and focus on her strengths.
Elina Svitolina just about managed to get through in straights against Ajla Tomljanovic. Svitolina trailed 1/5 in the opener before reeling off six straight games to take the set. Class told in the second, taking it 6/3.
Others winners today included Sloane Stephens and Anett Kontaveit. Stephens particularly impressed losing just two games against Arantxa Rus.
The men’s event saw fewer casualties.
David Goffin looked like he might be about to get that official blacklisting that I talked about in my preview. The Belgian found himself two sets down against Robin Haase. Thankfully he pulled himself together and cut down on the unforced error count to take the next three sets comfortably.
Another of my tips Kei Nishikori was tested by Maxime Janvier but still came through in three sets. Benoit Paire may be the next test for Kei.
Second seed Sascha Zverev came through easily against Ricardas Berankis. Sascha did not even have to save a break point here in his 6/1 6/1 6/2 victory.
Gael Monfils put on his usual show for the crowd against wildcard Elliot Benchetrit. Having dropped the first set and had the doc out, he settled down to the task at hand to win in four. Classic Gael performance. Never a dull moment, he was suffering physically though.
Elsewhere there were wins for Lucas Pouille, Fernando Verdasco, Pablo Carreno Busta and Grigor Dimitrov.
Finally, Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the event ahead of his first-round match with Bernie Tomic. Nick sounds like he doesn’t want to risk his grass court preparations. Tomic will now face Marco Trungelliti, who apparently has to get from Barca to sign in as a lucky loser.
Andy Del Potro