First round matches continued yesterday in the French capital and it was a day different as we didn’t get many upsets but there were a couple of close calls. My feature match heading into the day was Jaimee Fourlis taking on the twelfth seed Caroline Wozniacki.
The first match I watched saw the young 17-year-old Aussie Jaimee Fourlis really give Caroline Wozniacki a run for her money before the Dane took the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. This was a great effort from Fourlis considering she was playing her first ever French Open on a big court against one of the top players who is very well-known across the world but I think the nerves got to her in the end. The first set was very competitive as both players were playing at a very high level of tennis and we saw some epic rallies. Wozniacki ended up taking the set after she went up a break at 4-4 and then served out the set. It was great that Fourlis didn’t throw in the towel after dropping the opener and she just came out stronger for the second set. Even though Wozniacki was hitting a lot more errors than usual in the second set, Fourlis was taking her opportunities and she ended up taking the set comfortably. Fourlis seemed to tense up before the start of the final set when she realised this match was in reach and Wozniacki returned to her first set form. Woznaicki ended up racing out to an early lead and Fourlis wasn’t able to recover despite a valiant fight-back towards the end. Wozniacki will need to work on her consistency and endurance in her next couple of matches if she wants to advance further in the tournament.
I then turned my attention to Kiki Bertens who opened her French Open, where she is attempting to defend semifinal points, against the often overlooked Ajla Tomljanovic in the second match on Court 2. Kiki Bertens did struggle at the beginning of the match but once she got used to the conditions and starting getting into some longer rallies everything started to go her way. Bertens looked nervous when she came onto court and that showed in her game as she wasn’t able to rally at the baseline as she went down 1-3. She had opportunities to break back but she couldn’t do it as Tomljanovic was able to close out quite a solid set against a shaky Bertens. Bertens was obviously able to calm her nerves for the final two sets as she looked flawless and her baseline game was back at its best. After Bertens gained early leads in both the second and third sets Tomljanovic wasn’t able to fight back as the Dutch woman took the win 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. Once Bertens got into the match she was just outhitting her opponent and I expect that is how she will be for the rest of the tournament until she runs in to a particularly challenging match.
Marin Cilic and Ernests Gulbis followed Bertens and Tomljanovic on Court 2 as Cilic ended up overcoming the experienced clay courter that is Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Cilic is having some surprisingly solid results on the clay this year and he handled this match-up very well because it could have been tricky. Gulbis is still recovering from a wrist injury as well as a hamstring injury and he didn’t look ready enough which made sense after he revealed in his press that he had only practised for the past three days this year. Cilic faced little trouble on his serve against the often dangerous returner in Gulbis and Cilic was taking his opportunities in all three of his sets. All three of the sets were very similar with Cilic capturing the break or two breaks in the middle of the set, which would carry him through the rest of the set. Gulbis seemed very upbeat in press and I think that it is a good sign that we might be seeing him on the tour consistently in the coming months or years.
The other match I watched was between Fernando Verdasco and Alexander Zverev which was postponed at one set each. I won’t be reporting about the two sets but I might do a match review tomorrow depending on what I watch.