Thiem out, Naomi standing ground & Evo can turn attention to grass – Day 1 Roland Garros 2021.

Dominic Thiem’s form has nosedived this season and there was no reprieve in Paris. From two sets up against Pablo Andujar, he has lost against a player he hadn’t dropped a set against in three previous meetings. The Spaniard got under the Austrians skin and can now add Thiem to his list of scalps this season that also includes Roger Federer, having beat him in Geneva. For Thiem, questions need answering, which even he doesn’t have the answers to yet. He says it is not motivation, I saw on a forum extract that someone thought the three possibilities were ‘Burnout, COVID or hot girlfriend disease’ Hmm, interesting!

Seeing as I put Alex Zverev up to win this quarter that seemed like good news for me. Zverev also looked like he was on his way out though, trailing Oscar Otte by two sets to love. Otte was playing really well and Sascha weathered the storm in this one, to what I would describe as comfortably winning in five in the end. Serving up a bagel in the decider. You can never take your eye off the ball with Sascha that is for sure.

It was obviously very disappointing to see Evo lose to Miomir Kecmanovic but I am certainly of the opinion that it is glass half full here. It has been a fantastic clay court swing from Evans and we would all have taken this form on the dirt at the start of the season. He was understandably downbeat after the defeat as he wanted to get his first win at RG but there are some very positive vibes for the grass-court campaign right now and I am absolutely buzzing for him. Evo can recharge the batteries and reflect on what has been a very successful few months. Here is to a few more.

There was an easy win for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who after edging a first-set tiebreak against Jeremy Chardy pulled away. Pablo Carreno Busta was as professional as always in seeing off Norbert Gombos. Grigor Dimitrov is out after retiring with a lower back injury against Marcos Giron. The Bulgarian had led by two sets but having had match points in the third, eventually retired in the fourth. Others winners were Fabio Fognini, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Naomi Osaka has really caused a stir and continues to with her refusal to do press conferences, as she looks to protect her mental health. There are so many different opinions on this but I am with her. She is getting criticised for the way she has gone about it but if she does end up getting defaulted from the event, it will be Global news. All four slams have said they will stick by the rules of fines and code violations, so this could get interesting. I think the general consensus will certainly be with Naomi should it get to that. I don’t see her caving in anytime soon and her Tweet of “anger is a lack of understanding. Change makes people uncomfortable” seems pretty defiant. Oncourt she took care of business against Patricia Maria Tig, 6/4 7/6.

I saw Ana Konjuh had gone an early break up against Aryna Sabalenka and raised my eyebrows. It didn’t materialise though and reports suggest Konjuh was a little too erratic. Anhelina Kalinina, who got through qualifying, like Konjuh, had more luck in beating up Angie Kerber. This could have been even more comfortable than the 6/2 6/4 scoreline suggests and hammers home Kerber’s below-par efforts at the French. Elena Rybakina was impressive in beating last years junior champion Elsa Jacquemot, the standard was meant to be high in this one.

Petra Kvitova had to save a match point in the second set against Greet Minnen but the Belgian made too many unforced errors when it came to the decider. Petra saw the positives of coming back from the brink as she said she can’t remember the last time she did this. She always does seems super positive does Petra and that’s nice. Vika Azarenka also won a three setter against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The standard wasn’t up to the high levels you would expect of these two, due to both players being injured over the last few months. She just tends to find a way of winning these by and large does Vika.

Elsewhere there wins for my bets, Paula Badosa came through in straights against Lauren Davis. Danielle Collins also got through against Xiyu Wang. This was her first match since surgery and she says she feels like her back is much better and that there is no sciatic nerve pain. A three-set win for her. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also beat Christina McHale pretty comfortably. Ajla Tomljanovic stands in the way of her and a possible third-round match with Aryna Sabalenka.

On we go to day two. Serena in the evening session!
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).

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