The only difference between this performance and most of the last year’s performances from Sascha Zverev was that this time he was doing the front running as opposed to coming from behind. The German led by two sets to love but got pegged back to two sets apiece against the gutsy Aussie, John Millman. Having won in Geneva last week this looked a match Sascha should win quite comfortably, but if there is one thing that isn’t in Millman’s vocab it’s ‘comfortable’. The Australian’s work ethic means this probably isn’t the sort of match you want when you want to conserve energy. The early signs do not look good for the German and this looks to be the first nail. Having said that expectations are a lot, lot lower this year. I just don’t think he is there yet. Mikael Ymer is the next test.
I think Dan Evans can give himself a pat on the back. A four-set loss to Fernando Verdasco might not look a lot but he played well and has given this clay swing a real go. It is quite clearly his weakest surface and I think he has shown his level to be decent on the red stuff this year. I have high expectations for the grass court campaign for Evo, starting in Surbiton.
Juan Martin Del Potro had an early scare against Nicolas Jarry. This was always going to be a tough opener but Delpo settled down after dropping the first and played some really good stuff in a four-set win. Gael Monfils wanted to beat the (lack of) light as he hammered Taro Daniel for the loss of five games. Unlike Gael to want to get it done quickly, but props.
Other players in the winner’s enclosure today were Roberto Bautista Agut, Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille. Kyle Edmund won the first two games and the match on his resumption from last night against Jeremy Chardy. A welcome win for the Brit. Fabio Fognini beat his good pal, Andreas Seppi, in four and 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic ousted Feli Lopez in four sets. I swear Ivo was 2/5 down in the fourth and he won it 7/5. There was bad news for Cameron Norrie who put in a below-par performance against the qualifier Elliot Benchetrit. It sounds like Nozza didn’t really get going and the 6/3 6/0 6/2 scoreline agrees.
Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep had varying degrees of difficulty today in progressing. Osaka more so, she came within a couple of points of defeat to Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova. She was really struggling here and then when defeat was on the horizon, she accelerated and the Slovakian pulled up. She is making quite the habit of it but that is why she was has won the last two slams. Simona Halep had to weather the storm (as she does so often) against Alja Tomljanovic and, like Osaka, strolled to a 6/1 decider. Halep plays Magda Linette next whereas Osaka will play Vika Azarenka. That promises to be a cracker with Osaka only an 8/11 favourite with the bookmakers. Will she step it up? I honestly don’t know. Ostapenko was apparently all over the gaff against Vika today with errors galore for the record. Should be interesting.
Bianca Andreescu finally finished off Marie Bouzkova, in another of the matches held from overnight. The Canadian is clearly not at her best yet and Sofia Kenin will be a tricky match next up. She says the shoulder is holding up fine though. Aryna Sabalenka, on the other hand, looked pretty useful in beating Dom Cibulkova 7/5 6/1. I am still not expecting too much from her here but she could be playing herself into form for the grass. Anett Kontaveit (one of my tips for the quarter) has lost to Karolina Muchova. It was a horrible draw but I thought she would get through. She seemed pretty down after saying she had “no strength” and her tennis is there but her “head just has to come”.
Other players who managed to make round two are Madison Keys, Maria Sakkari, Daria Kasatkina, Amanda Anisimova and Caroline Garcia. Kurumi Nara won five straight games on the resumption of her match today to beat Dalila Jakupovic, she now faces Rena next.
Andy Del Potro