Even though we are still in the first round of the French Open, Day 2 featured plenty of top seeds struggling out of the gate.
Rafael Nadal dropped his first set and almost fell behind two sets to none, although he eventually returned to form and defeated Daniel Brands. However, No. 5 Tomas Berdych was not quite as lucky and lost to Gael Monfils in five sets.
There was a lot of action on display throughout the day, so here is a recap of what you need to know.
Notable Matches (Full Results at RolandGarros.com)
|No. 3 Rafael Nadal def. Daniel Brands||4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-3|
Gael Monfils def. No. 5 Tomas Berdych
|7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5|
No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Aljaz Bedene
|6-2, 6-2, 6-3|
No. 7 Richard Gasquet def. Sergiy Stakhovsky
|6-1, 6-4, 6-3|
No. 10 Marin Cilic def. Philipp Petzschner
|6-1, 6-2, 6-3|
No. 11 Nicolas Almagro def. Andreas Haider-Maurer
|4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3|
No. 19 John Isner def. Carlos Berlocq
|6-3, 6-4, 6-4|
Ryan Harrison def. Andrey Kuznetsov
|6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4)|
No. 2 Maria Sharapova def. Su-Wei Hsieh
No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska def. Shahar Peer
No. 6 Li Na def. A. Medina Garrigues
No. 8 Angelique Kerber def. Mona Barthel
No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki def. Laura Robson
No. 17 Sloane Stephens def. Karin Knapp
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova
Rafael Nadal Starts Slowly
After winning at Roland Garros in seven of the last eight years, it is no surprise that Rafael Nadal is the favorite to once again take the title, even if he comes in as the No. 3 seed.
However, he was less than dominant in his opening match and even dropped the first set to opponent Daniel Brands. The underdog was very impressive with his serve, topping out at 215 kilometers per hour and averaging 197 kph on his first serve.
To make things tougher, Brands was able to get 74 percent of his first serves in play. As a result, Nadal had to make some adjustments, especially where he was standing to receive the serves (via @RolandGarros):
Nadal eventually turned things around in the tiebreak of the second set. He was down 3-0 but came back to win the set and even the match at 1-1. The Spanish star then took control of the match and got the win in four sets to advance to the next round.
While losing one set is usually not something to be alarmed about, ESPN Stats and Info put the struggles in perspective:
In 1st-round win vs Daniel Brands, Rafael Nadal lost 19 games. He lost a total of 19 games in the 1st 4 rounds at last year's French Open.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2013
Brands deserves a lot of credit for his performance, but it clearly shows that Nadal is not invincible at this event like he has been in past years.
Caroline Wozniacki Comes Through with a Win
As the No. 10 player in the world and former No. 1, a lot is expected out of Caroline Wozniacki. Unfortunately, she has struggled mightily as of late and still has not been able to win a major.
She has failed to escape the first round in two of the last three Grand Slam tournaments, and she entered this event on a five-match losing streak.
The Danish star has not even reached a semifinal of a tournament since Indian Wells in early March, when she was easily defeated by Maria Sharapova in the finals.
However, she looked like her old self on Monday, taking down a formidable opponent in Laura Robson. She had little trouble in the match, finishing the British star off in just over an hour.
Live Tennis had a good idea of what this win means for Wozniacki:
Caroline Wozniacki will be v relieved after finally getting a clay-court win this year! She's just beaten Laura Robson 6-3, 6-2— Live Tennis (@livetennis) May 27, 2013
She will move on to face Bojana Jovanovski in the second round, but she has to make sure she maintains focus throughout the week.
Tomas Berdych Drops a Heartbreaker
Although Tomas Berdych has never won a Grand Slam, he is always among the toughest players to beat on tour. The Czech star came in as the No. 5 seed and looked to at least reach the semifinals in this tournament.
Unfortunately, he will not be able to accomplish that feat, as he lost one of the best first-round matches you will ever see.
Gael Monfils escaped with the victory in the first set after needing 10 points to win the tiebreak. He then added to his lead by winning the second set as well.
Berdych did not give in easily, fighting hard to win the third set in a tiebreak. He also won the fourth set, but it was not enough, and the favorite was eliminated.
Overall, the match needed five sets and three different tiebreaks, and it lasted over four hours.
Both men gave their complete effort in this match, but Monfils really put it all on the line, as you can see from this image of him diving for a ball (courtesy of the AFP Photo Department):
The French underdog will now face Ernests Gulbis in the second round.
Maria Sharapova Barely Breaks a Sweat
It took a long time for Maria Sharapova to finally get on the court in one of the final matches of the day. Thanks to the extended play of Berdych and Monfils, officials moved the match from Court Philippe Chatrier to Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters thought this could end up being an issue:
Sharapova's had some of worst career moments on Lenglen, says like playing diff tourney w/ court speed, wont be thrilled match moved there— Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) May 27, 2013
However, things were just fine once the match got started. The No. 2 seed defeated Su-Wei Hsieh by a score of 6-2, 6-1. She was great with her first serve and never allowed her opponent to even reach break point.
Sharapova is the defending champion at this event after earning the career Grand Slam last season. However, she is not expected to win with Serena Williams in her way.
Still, the Russian has shown she can play well on clay and should go far in this tournament.
High Seeds Take Care of Business
While Nadal had some trouble in the first round, there were plenty of highly rated players who lived up to expectations in the opening round.
French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the support of the home crowd, and he showed right away that he deserves consideration as a contender in this event. The No. 6 seed defeated Aljaz Bedene 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 and was only broken once during the match.
Jonathan Overend of BBC Tennis provides a great look of the full crowd cheering on Tsonga, as well as some good views from the press box:
Court Suzanne Lenglen from the 5 Live commentary box... Tsonga down there, Eiffel Tower up to the right!! twitter.com/5livetennis/st…— Jonathan Overend (@5livetennis) May 27, 2013
Similarly, No. 7 Richard Gasquet pleased the fans with a straight-set victory over Sergiy Stakhovsky.
On the women's side, Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska both had easy times in their first matches of the tournament.
Li won at Roland Garros in the past and is certainly capable of doing it again, especially considering Serena Williams' previous struggles on clay. She only lost seven games in her two-set win.
Meanwhile, Radwanska was even more impressive with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Shahar Peer. She will now face Mallory Burdette in the second round, although the No. 4 seed does not necessarily believe in scouting reports, according to Beyond the Baseline:
Radwanska says she knows nothing about Mallory Burdette. Asked if she'll get a scouting report, "Well, I might Google her." Kids these days.— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) May 27, 2013
Either way, the Polish player should be the heavy favorite to keep winning after her performance in Round 1, just like the rest of the top seeds who did well.