Rafa and Nole both got through in straights sets, with Nole probably impressing more this time, not that it makes much difference in the grand scheme of things. Nadal was made to work a bit by Alexei Popyrin. The Aussie was actually 5/2 up in the third and said that he ‘choked’. Plenty of others have followed the same suit pal, I wouldn’t worry. Djokovic knew that Tennys Sandgren would bring his hustle and bustle but it wasn’t anywhere near enough, despite a close second set. It has worked out well for both of them with minor tests just to get the limbs warmed up. Nole plays Pablo Cuevas next and Rafa will play his long time mate, Richard Gasquet. Doesn’t look too much of an upset on the cards really does there? It will be a step up for both but one they will no doubt handle comfortably.
Andrey Rublev crashed out to Jan-Lennard Struff in five. The Russian had navigated his way back from two sets down but Struff took away his opponents ability to dictate quite as much as usual by hitting his big serves and forehands. The biggest upset of the men’s so far. Andreas Seppi caused another as he rolled back the years to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime. This looked like it could be nasty should Seppi turn up, which you usually fancy at a slam and so it proved. The Canadian isn’t at his most comfortable on clay and over five sets this didn’t look a great matchup for him. It was great to see Gael Monfils enjoying his tennis again, spurred on by the Parisien crowd. Having lost the first set against Albert Ramos-Vinolas there was plenty to cheer about as he got the crowd involved and looked to get on the offensive. The classic showman was out in full here and good on him.
There were also wins for Matteo Berrettini, Diego Schwartzman and Alex De Minaur who impressed in his straight-sets defeat of Stefano Travaglia.
It was great to see Carla Suarez Navarro back out there wasn’t it? She gave this a real go against Sloane Stephens and it barely looked like she had been away from the tour. She has always seemed a very popular character amongst fans and players and I am really pleased to see her healthy and with that backhand being ripped again. She was only two points away from victory in the second set. A fantastic effort. She hopes to play Wimbledon, The Olympics and the US Open.
Ash Barty certainly isn’t looking fit at the moment and her three-set win over Bernarda Pera has raised a fair few questions. There seems to be a problem with her thigh/back and the serve is suffering. Definitely one to watch closely and she faces Magda Linette next. Coco Gauff put in a professional performance in beating Aleksandar Krunic. A 13-11 first set breaker turning this in her favour. Her knack of winning the big points was once again key in a match that lasted over two hours for straight sets. She faces Qiang Wang in the second round. She said after “I didn’t play my best today, but I’m happy that I was able to fight through it. In the first set, there were many moments I could have gave up, but I didn’t. I’m happy with the result today.”
Other winners in the women’s included Karolina Pliskova, Jennifer Brady, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari. Venus lost to Ekaterina Alexandrova meaning she is on a 6 match losing streak. I really want to see Venus win a couple of matches on grass this year and hopefully go a few rounds at SW19. We know clay has never really been for her. Elina Svitolina had a scare in the second set against the 17-year-old Oceane Babel. Babel impressed me with what I saw of this in the second set, her forehand, in particular, catching the eye. It was a shame she couldn’t close the set out. Finally, Petra Kvitova has had to withdraw from the event after injuring herself during her press commitments, she has fallen and hurt her ankle in a bizarre/freak incident.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).