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Notes from Roland Garros - day two

   

A bitesize summary of the goings on on-court from day two at the French Open

Big win
For Victoria Azarenka. Trailing a set and 0-4, and with her opponent having points for 5-0, it looked like the world No.1 might become the first female top seed to ever exit Roland Garros in the opening round. But the Australian Open champion, hitting a second serve ace at 0-4, pulled it back. She said she had already been thinking about which plane she’d be catching to Minsk. One might wager that after surviving a scare like that, she won’t be looking back.

Jelena Jankovic also produced something of an epic comeback from 1-6 against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, prevailing 7-5 in the third.

Stat of the day – 10-0
Wins by the American women as Lauren Davis, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sloane Stephens, Varvara Lepchenko, Vania King, Christina McHale joined Venus Williams, xxx in the second round of the main draw singles. Which leaves just Serena Williams and Jamie Hampton to play. Their victories included the upsets of two highly-favoured Germans, Mona Barthel and Sabine Lisicki, both of whom, it seems, can’t wait to get onto grass. As an esteemed colleague pointed out, can you imagine what we’d do if we had 10 British women in the second round of a slam?!

So that’s what momentum does
Brian Baker, the American 27-year-old who returned to the game with a ‘Hello, here I am’ by reaching the final in Nice last week, won his first-round match over Xavier Malisse in straight sets, and barely blinked in so doing. As the all-knowing Steve Tignor of Tennis.com pointed out, the last 27-year-old ranked 141 in the world on such a roll was named Andre Agassi. Baker played in the Roland Garros junior final nine years ago.

With tears in his eyes
Was how Paul-Henri Mathieu celebrated his epic 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-0 win over Bjorn Phau to rapturous applause on Court 2, one of my favourites at Roland Garros. It was electric.

Cruising on through
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, John Isner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tomas Berdych, Malek Jaziri, Jesse Levine, Bernard Tomic, Andreas Seppi, Lukasz Kubot, Milos Raonic, Li Na, Dominika Cibulkova, Marion Bartoli, Zheng Jie, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sesil Karatantcheva, Petra Cetkovska, Petra Martic, Anabel Medina-Garrigues, Stephanie Foretz-Gacon, Yung-Jan Chan, Carla Suarez Navarro, Yaroslava Shvedova, Olga Govortsova, Nadia Petrova, and Claire Feuerstein (who?!) all won in straight sets.

When the pain is just too much
Poor Alex Bogomolov Jr was forced to retire facing match point against Arnaud Clement, the cramp in his legs so severe that he couldn’t even serve. Pundits confessed they’d never seen anything like it. It was also curtains for Feliciano Lopez, who retired trailing 0-5 against Florent Serra.

Long road home for
Lleyton Hewitt. The former world No.1 was his usual battling self during a four-set loss to Blaz Kavcic, but sadly, just never had the wheels. He’ll turn his attention to Queen’s now, where he’s been awarded a wild card. Another wily veteran, Radek Stepanek, was sent packing by the talented David Goffin in five turbulent sets. Thank the skies for Stepanek’s very prosperous doubles career in 2012. Another former great, David Nalbandian, also bid farewell in four.

Marathon match
Kevin Anderson defeated Rui Machado 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 4-6, 6-1, 11-9. Gosh.

Head-scratcher
Trailing two sets to love and 1-5 to Mikhail Kukushkin, you might think that Ernests Gulbis would just write it off, as he has written off so many matches. But he didn’t. He dug deep, won the next two sets, led in the fifth and then…messed it up. Losing 6-4 in the fifth, all that hard work was for nothing. He remains one of the most puzzling players out there.

Fashion focus
Very much like the adidas colours this year. The green and orange, being worn by Ana Ivanovic, Sorana Cirstea, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and more, works particularly well on the Roland Garros red clay. Quite like Djokovic’s Uniqlo threads too.

It was brought to my attention meanwhile that Roger Federer held a competition on his facebook  page to decide which colour socks to wear with his all-grey outfit. The fans chose black, so Federer went black. Nifty.

Talk of the town
Still Olympic qualification. Time is still running out.

Come back tomorrow for (among others)…
Francesca Schiavone (v Kimiko Date-Krumm), Richard Gasquet, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams on Chatrier; Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, and Andy Murray on Lenglen; Janko Tipsarevic and Caroline Wozniacki on Court 1; David Ferrer on Court 2; Tommy Haas and James Blake on Court 3; Heather Watson and Anne Keothavong on Court 6; Marcos Baghdatis on Court 7; and the start of the doubles on many other courts.