The first day of the second grand slam of the year was on yesterday and we got some great stories but also some upsets. My feature match of the day was Petra Kvitova taking on Julia Boserup in one of the feel good stories that will leave a good vibe for the rest of the tournament and possibly couple of weeks.
The first match up on Philippe-Chatrier Court saw Petra Kvitova play her first match of the year and get a win over Julia Boserup. Kvitova wasn’t expected to be back out on court until Wimbledon if her recovery from a horrific knife attack that left her left hand severely injured went well. It obviously went miraculously as she looked on song playing a great match of tennis to get the 6-3, 6-2 win. The first point really set the tone as Kvitova hit a strong lefty serve followed up by a short return from Boserup which saw Kvitova smack away her first forehand winner of the match. Kvitova couldn’t miss early on as she went up 3-0 and had points to go up 4-0 but couldn’t get it done. It was on serve for the rest of the first set as Kvitova eventually served out a great first set of her comeback. The second set was even more dominant even though Boserup started to hit some great forehand returns but she still couldn’t break Kvitova. The Czech player got two breaks of serve in that final set as she closed out the emotional victory. If Kvitova plays like that for the rest of the tournament I wouldn’t be surprised if she reached a quarterfinal or even semifinal.
Svetlana Kuznetsova looked patchy as she won her opening match 7-5, 6-4 over Christina McHalein the second match on Suzanne-Lenglen Court. Kuznetsova is coming in to this grand slam as one of the favourites to go home with the trophy but she will really need to lift her level if she wants to live up to those expectations. Kuznetsova got broken early in her first service game of the match but she ten started to settle down and get enough balls in the court to go up 5-3. McHale then got inspired as she saved set points while Sveta was serving the American managed to tie up the set at 5-5. Kuznetsova’s survival instinct kicked in then and she closed out two tough games to take the opener. She broke in the middle of the second set to lead 4-2 and she tried to serve it out 5-3 but, for the second time, McHale broke her while she tried to serve it out. Kuznetsova wasn’t phased as she broke McHale the game after to close out the win but after the match she talked about struggling with nerves, which is worrying in case she does make it to the final and has to play on the biggest stages of women’s tennis.
Dominic Thiem has a lot expected of him at this French Open with all this momentum that has been building up and he looked good in his opening round as he got a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic, who has appeared to be lost from what we’ve seen of him this year. Tomic was playing quite well in this first set as he was hitting aggressively and was getting a lot of balls in, quite a few if which were winners. Even though he was playing well Thiem’s clay court prowess was too much as Thiem got the single break to take the opener with a tight margin. From there Tomic threw in the towel as he lost the second set in 17 minutes with the Aussie only capturing 7 points and the final set wasn’t much better. Even though Tomic captured over double the points in the third than he did in the second he still lost in just 22 minutes. It’s disappointing to see this from Tomic because if he kept fighting he might have been able to take a set but he did what he normally does, which is stop trying. Thiem should be happy with the win despite the usual antics from Tomic and the Austrian looked good for the first match of the event.
The home favourite Lucas Pouille had to fight in a really tough match against Julien Benneteau before coming through the match with a 7-6(8-6), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 scoreline. I’m anticipating big things from Pouille at this event in his home nation but he can’t afford to be expending all this energy in the opening rounds. The first set was really high quality and both players deserved to take that opener but Pouille ended up closing it out. I think Pouille was a bit to slow to focus and knuckle down after a tough first set and he dropped the second set after falling down an early break. The third set was similar to the first with it being very high quality but this time the scales went Benneteau’s way and Pouille was in some major trouble. Benneteau started to tire at the beginning of the fourth set and Pouille started to get his forehand going as he managed to force a decider after taking a comfortable fourth set. The decider came down to who was the most physically prepared and that was Pouille in the end as he closed out a tight final set to continue his bid to make a deep run at his home event. Pouille’s main problem out there today was his serve as he got just 44% of his first serves in but a good hour or two on the practice court working on the serve could help with managing to get the service to aid him through the second round.