So Naomi has withdrawn. The whole pressure cooker atmosphere showed no signs of cooling down and you could see this coming. Social media doesn’t tend to agree with me but I have a great deal of sympathy for her. The bottom line is her actions here and the offer to speak to the tour on the concerns she has was what was probably needed, not just in her eyes but that of other players too. We all appreciate that questions can be very intrusive sometimes and that certainly doesn’t just go as far as tennis or indeed sport. I have a great deal of admiration for her and her actions may lead to some sort of compromise. I even saw Piers Morgan giving his opinion as he does on everything. Strange that as his reaction when asked a question on live telly didn’t go too well from what I remember. It is people like this having opinions when they know very little that makes these situations worse. It will be a much-needed rest for Naomi now and one where I assume she will probably miss Wimbledon too.
With all that done and dusted it was nice to see Serena get through against Begu. It could have been easier but as it turns out it could have been a lot nastier. She nearly lost the first set from a break-up and had to get it back together to avoid dropping the opener. After that, it was quite straight forward and her first strike was doing enough. I said at the start this wasn’t a nice draw on the surface. Mihaela Buzarnescu is next and then it really starts going. My expectations are lower than a normal slam and I will just enjoy the ride for this one, however long it lasts. I like many fans have my eyes on a certain prize in July! Anything here is a bonus for me. Loving the neon green outfit, looking good. Renas Army.
Last years champion Iga Swiatek came through a tough second set against Kaja Juvan, her best mate. There were very few signs of nerves here and it is becoming a recurring theme. More comparisons with Rafa as a result. There is a long way to go here yet but her temperament really does shine through. Former champion Garbine Muguruza is out after losing 6/1 6/4 to Marta Kostyuk. I was thinking about tipping the Spaniard up for her quarter, so got out of the way of this one nicely. Lack of matches and not feeling physically great on the day attributed to the defeat. A back issue specifically. It wasn’t a great day for the Brits either as both Jo Konta and Heather Watson lost to Sorana Cirstea and Zarina Diyas respectively. I liked Cirstea chances as I said in my preview and having fallen an early break behind in the opener, she pulled away in the second set. Watson had chances against Diyas and hopefully, she can get a few wins on the grass now this is done.
Bianca Andreescu lost her first round to Tamara Zidansek, she hasn’t come in with many matches either, only playing in Strasbourg since Miami, so this isn’t as big a surprise as it looks. It hasn’t been great lately for Kiki Bertens having injured herself at the French Open last year, which continued with defeat to Polona Hercog, a player that has had plenty of her own injury concerns over her career. However, there were wins for Elise Mertens, Sofia Kenin and Belinda Bencic. Kenin edged past Jelena Ostapenko in three and Bencic hammered last years semi-finalist, Nadia Podoroska for the loss of just three games.
Roger Federer and Daniil Medvedev have got themselves into the event. Both posted straight-sets wins over Denis Istomin and Alexander Bublik respectively. I think both will concede they have much sterner challenges ahead. With so little game time under both of their belts, I am sure they will take these tidy efforts. Federer will play Marin Cilic next and he leads the series 9-1 currently. It will be a bigger test than Istomin though you would think. Medvedev plays Tommy Paul after the American won 10-8 Against Chris O’Connell. It looks like a nice matchup on paper for the Russian.
Cam Norrie contiuned his impressive form. A win over the former junior champion Bjorn Fratnagelo in three sets will be followed up with a second-round against Lloyd Harris. Should Nozza win that he will probably face Rafa in the third round. Making the finals in Estoril and Lyon have given him the confidence here and you would expect him to beat the South African next. It was a good day for a couple of the young Italians. Jannik Sinner just about beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert and his man-bun in five sets. I am a big fan of the new look with the Frenchman. Lorenzo Musetti beat David Goffin in straights in what from the outside looks like an upset but in reality, it wasn’t.
Others winners in the mens were Casper Ruud, Carlos Alcaraz, John Isner and Jaume Munar. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga lost out to Nishioka. The Frenchman was upbeat despite defeat but desperately needs game time. Sebastian Korda’s ran out of steam after his exertions last week, he lost to Pedro Martinez having beaten him here last year.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).