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27 May 2009

Round one completed: French Open

No major upsets yet as the first round of the French Open completes.

The top four ranked men eased into the second round expectedly. What was unexpected was the performance of the defending champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard was dressed to kill, with his bright pink shirt with yellow wristbands and bandana. Oddly, the world number one had to dig deep to force the issue at crucial points to register a 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 win over unknown but brave Brazilian Marcos Daniel.

Feliciano Lopez grinds out a five setter
Anyways, we are rooting for Rafa to win his 30th consecutive match at the French Open: the world number one would eclipse Chris Evert's mark of 29 which the American set between 1974-81.

Another surprise was sprung by top ranked American Andy Roddick, who registered his first win at Roland Garros since 2005 with a straights sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over French unknown Romain Jouan. While his fellow American buddies James Blake and Mardy Fish had booked a flight straight out of Paris. Yes, the American boys hate the red clay that much.

Two fine Spaniards specimens, Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003 Roland Garros champion) and Feliciano Lopez struggled though to the second round with a five-set marathon win over Ivan Ljubicic and Franco Ferreiro respectively.

In fact for the men’s draw, only three lowly seeded players were sent packing, Ivo Karlovic (26), Thomas Berdych (19) and James Blake (15).
While on the woman’s side, all attention were on comeback queen, Maria Sharapova as she screams her way past tireless retriever Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus in a three set match. The Russian who was spotted with a pair of Tiffany’s & Co. earrings looked out of sorts in the first set. Upping the decibels and power at the start of the second set, she managed to subdue her lesser known opponent with a scoreline, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.  

It was painful to watch Serena in her first round match
The first round matches confirmed our doubts about the Williamses’ clay court play with their unconvincing first round wins. Elder sister Venus Williams was caught napping in the second set as she belted out a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over fellow American walking fashion disaster Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

While Serena blew away eight match points on her late Tuesday night match on court Suzanne Lenglen. Tricky windy conditions and a stubborn opponent, Czech Klara Zakopalova were not the only things working against the world number two. Much more focus will be needed from Serena if she wants to overcome her second round opponent, Virgina Ruano Pascual from France.

Hot favourite Dinara Safina was devastating in demolishing British Anne Keothavong by 6-0, 6-0. The world number one looks determined to clinch her first Grand Slam at this year’s French Open. At the same time, other top 10 ladies: Jelena Jakovic, Elena Dementiava and Svetlana Kuznetsova looked at home with convincing wins and move forward into the second round. In spite of a straight sets victory, defending champ, Ana Ivanovic looks like she is still struggling.

Ameile...Should I stay or should I go? 
While Aussie Samantha Stoser springs a surprise on clay court specialist, Francesca Schiavone.Fellow Aussie Jelena Dokic continues her comeback fairy tale as she forcefully rallied back to overcome Karolina Sprem.

Perhaps the biggest question now is whether Amelie Mauresmo, an openly gay two-time Grand Slam champion will consider hanging up her rackets for good with a disappointing lost in the first round to German Anna-Lena Groenefeld by a tame 4-6, 3-6.







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