Serena can generally be a slow starter and she wasn’t anywhere near her best in the first set against Kristie Ahn. The pair had played in New York, less than a month ago. Once Rena had pulled herself together in the first set breaker, she ran away with it in the second. The bagel was served! I am expecting an uncomfortable ride again in the next round against Tsvetana Pironkova, another of Serena’s opponents in New York. We know what the Bulgarian is going to bring, it will be down to Serena to be patient and execute. Pironkova beat Andrea Petkovic, who was playing her first competitive match since lockdown.
I hadn’t even noticed that Garbine Muguruza was struggling until the Spaniard had crept over the line 8/6 in the decider against Tamara Zidansek. The 22-year-old played well above herself from reports and Muguruza had to really grind it out. It means the Spaniard has had a match to get herself into this already. Time will tell but that might not be a bad thing. A different matchup against Kristina Pliskova awaits.
There were a few bigger names to lose though, Madison Keys came in with no clay court practice after injury in NYC and lost to Shuai Zhang. Angie Kerber, who continues to struggle to clay, lost to Kaja Juvan and last years runner-up Marketa Vondrousova was pummelled by Iga Swiatek 6/1 6/2. This was by all account a very good performance from the Pole, who has shown what she can do before. Still only 19-years-old.
From my ‘tips’, of which Muguruza was one, Alize Cornet won but Svetlana Kuznetsova lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Elsewhere there were wins for Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens. Bertens will have a tough match next against the former runner-up, Sara Errani. The Italian has strolled through qualifying and Monica Puig yesterday. Should be an intriguing match, especially in these conditions.
Rafa got off to his normal professional start as he beat Egor Gerasimov. The scoreline stayed competitive though, but in fairness, that kept everyone happy. I am sure there are still a few gears left for Nadal to move through. Dominic Thiem was much the same in his straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic, which bodes well for him. I thought there might be a slight comedown after his fist slam. There might still be but this was focused enough yesterday.
Some seeds went though. Daniil Medvedev lost to Marton Fucsovics. I actually don’t think this is as much of a shock as people will tell you. I know Daniil has played well on the clay before but it’s not best suited to his game. Yoshihito Nishioka beat Felia Auger-Aliassime, in another after time you can see in these conditions why the tricky Nishioka would be very difficult to beat. Similarly, you can see FAA losing his patience and discipline in rallies as a result. Straight sets this.
Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini came into the tournament with low expectations for different reasons and both have been sent packing. Monfils lost to the unpredictable Alexander Bublik, you can see he struggled without the crowd this year. Things haven’t been right though and he said that on social media coming in. Fognini had also said that he wasn’t expecting much after having surgery on his ankle and he lost to Mikhail Kukushkin. Lorenzo Giustino v Corentin Moutet went over two days and lasted over six hours. The Italian winning one of the longest tennis matches in history, 18/16 in the fifth.
I only had two of my tips playing in the men’s, Casper Ruud was a comfortable winner over Yuichi Sugita but Filip Krajinovic lost to fellow Serbian Nikola Milojevic. I obviously didn’t see that coming and it wasn’t a great effort from Krajinovic. No excuses there, though he was 250/1 to win the event. Finally, both Cam Norrie and Liam Broady lost on the Brits watch. Would have been nice to see them both get wins here against Daniel Galan & Jiri Vesely but it wasn’t to be. It would be great to see Broady build on this though, we know his work ethic is there.
Andy Del Potro