Roland Garros Day 1 – Federer Returns, Kerber and Venus Williams Lose, Mahut Tops Cecchinato
(May 26, 2019) Roger Federer made his return to Roland Garros for the first time in three years to beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 on day one of the second major of the tennis year. The Italian was making his Paris debut on Sunday.
Federer, who won his only French Open title 10 years ago, last played the French Open back in 2015, he did not play in 2016 due to a back injury and skipped the clay court seasons for 2017 and 2018 in order to focus on winning Wimbledon.
“I missed you, thanks very much for the welcome,” the third seeded Federer said to the crowd in his on-court interview after the match. “I was quite tense at the start.”
Federer played the “clay-court season” this year reaching the final eight of Madrid and Rome, but did pull out of Rome with a leg injury.
Federer will play German lucky loser Oscar Otte in the second round on Wednesday. Otte beat who beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Angelique Kerber came into Paris with a chance to complete a career Grand Slam, but it’s not to be this year. The three-time major champion lost in the first round to 18-year-old Roland Garros debutante, Russian Anastasia Potapova ranked No. 81, 6-4, 6-2. The German, seeded No. 5, was still dealing with a right ankle injury.
“Of course this is not my excuse and everything,” Kerber said. “I know that there is still a little bit of work to do to be really playing matches 100 percent.” The defending Wimbledon champion said the clay season is over for her and she can now focus on grass.
Among other seeded women advancing to the second round included last year’s finalist seventh seed Sloane Stephens, who defeated Masaki Doi 6-3, 7-6, (4). The 2016 champion and 19th-seeded Garbine Muguruza is a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 winner over American Taylor Townsend at the tournament’s newest stadium, Court Simonne Mathieu. Belinda Bencic the 15th seed, and Petra Martic the 31st seed also advanced.
Venus Williams, 38, making her 22nd appearance at the clay court major, lost to No. 9 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3. This is the second straight year that the 2002 finalist has lost in the first round of Paris.
“It’s amazing what she does and how she still keep going and still motivated to play,” said Svitolina after the match. “Even today, I was playing against her and thinking, you know, I’m not sure I will be here playing at that age. But she’s a great player. Still can challenge everyone on tour.”
Sixteenth seed, Italian Marco Cecchinato, who beat Novak Djokovic at last year’s French Open, was an upset victim in the first round. Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, a wild card, rallied from two sets down to win in front of home fans on the new Court Simonne Mathieu 2-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
The Italian had reached the semifinals in Paris last year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the sixth seed, topped German Maximillian Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4).
The 20-year-old Greek was happy with the win. “Very satisfied. I was playing really well the first two sets of the match,” he said to media. “Better than I thought I would. Third set was tricky. I felt like he started pressing more, started going for his shots more, faster, stronger.”
Other seeded men’s winners on Sunday included 7th seed Kei Nishikori who beat No. 153 Quentin Halys 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 11th seed Marin Cilic over Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 7-5, 6-1, 17th seed Diego Schwartzman made it past Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2. Other seeds making it to the second round: 27th seed David Goffin, 29th seed Matteo Berrettini, and 31st seed Laslo Djere.
Canadian teenager, 25th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, withdrew from the French Open because due to a groin injury he suffered during a tournament in Lyon where he reached the final.
He was replaced in the draw by Spanish lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
“I was feeling great. And then during my semi-finals I started feeling pain in my groin, so yeah, I didn’t expect it. But at the same time, we had time to think about it, do the exams, and it was a very thoughtful decision. I think I’m at peace just knowing that it’s not something [serious], that it’s gonna heal pretty fast. But I have to be careful,” said the Canadian.
American Sam Querrey also pulled out of Paris with abdominal injury, he was replaced by lucky loser . Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.
More to follow…