The likes of Rafael Nadal, and the men’s and women’s defending champions Novak Djokovic and Garbine Muguruza moved on to the second round without much ado in their respective first round matches on Monday at the French Open.
Alongside them, several others too made their way past the initial hurdle in the draw, some with as little fuss as possible, even as the rest came up with captivating and dramatic moments on the court.
The following then are five such matches that came courtesy of Monday’s first round clashes:
Kristina Mladenovic lives up to her billing
Brady came, Brady saw, but Brady was unable to see off Mladenovic – the home favourite and one of the contenders for the 2017 French Open title – in the end. Due credit to Mladenovic, she did come up with the kind of showing one would expect a potential champion to deliver, especially when it came to fighting your own fraying physique apart from the opponent herself.
As Mladenovic struggled with a back injury, Brady took full advantage of the Frenchwoman’s cramped shot-making to take an early break and race ahead to a 3-0 lead. There were no comebacks from the 13th seed in the set – which she lost 6-3 – but, perhaps, those were saved for the latter two sets.
Starting off the second set, Mladenovic first equalled the match by winning the set with the same margin. And, then she went all out in the third, which had nine breaks of serve. The penultimate five games of the set before Mladenovic served out the match in the 16th game were all service breaks, with the French player serving for the match twice before – at 6-5 and 7-6.
So relieved was Mladenovic in getting past the finish line when Brady struck an error off her forehand that she burst into tears. The French crowd, ever partisan in its support to its players, too, didn’t hold back in clamouring for her. And, for once, they lived up to the occasion.
The Spanish Armada lives on in David Ferrer
The Spaniard, a former finalist here in Paris, in 2013, is currently a far throw from the player who he was, nearly four years ago. From being the Spanish No 2 behind Rafael Nadal, he’s now dropped down to being the Spanish No 5.
However, none of that mattered for Ferrer against the American, as he came up with a rousing performance in Court 17 that had him firstly shrug off Donald Young’s two-sets-to-one lead, and then win the match in a marathon fifth set (on his third match point) that lasted 26 games encompassing about an hour and 40 minutes of play.
What does Ferrer get for his efforts? A second round match against compatriot Feliciano Lopez, who won in straight sets against another American, Bjorn Fratangelo. More importantly for the 35-year-old Lopez, he’s marked a milestone of his own at Roland Garros – his 61st straight appearance in a Major.
Tournament’s first upset, and an American player at that
The tale of American men and their tryst with the French clay shall continue to live for a while longer, with Jiri Vesely adding insult to Jack Sock’s misery by making him the first seed to be upset in the tournament.
The fourteenth-seeded Sock lost quite tamely – in straight sets, no less – 7-5, 7-5, 6-3, failing to provide answers to the queries of how he could have not come up with a better showing. Sock converted merely two break points on 11, and while Vesely wasn’t entirely better on that front – with six break converted off 16 – the timeliness of his conversion saw the match slowly being taken out of Sock’s hands.
In the interests of fairness, it does have to be mentioned that the 26th seed Frenchman Gilles Simon also lost his first round to Nikoloz Basilashvili, striking the first blow to the home crowd. However, given what American men’s tennis has had to endure for several years now at Roland Garros, the comparative narrative of Simon’s upset with Sock’s doesn’t stretch that far.