If you came into Day 1 of the 2014 French Open looking for a series of high-profile upsets that reshaped the entire outlook of the tournament, Roland Garros did not deliver up to expectations.
But it was awfully good for those rooting for stars.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams each breezed through their opening-round matches, as Sunday afternoon largely looked like a tuneup for top stars. The deep Grand Slam tournament field very often lends itself to a such a first round for elite players. Most are taking on opponents who just barely made it through qualifying or wild cards who got the unfortunate luck of the draw.
Such was the case with Federer and Williams, who faced Lukas Lacko and Alize Lim, respectively. It was a good day overall for the Williams sisters, as Venus also advanced to Round 2 with a victory over Belinda Bencic.
Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and Agnieszka Radwanska also advanced with relative ease. The biggest upset of the day was by Monica Niculescu, who defeated 25th-seeded Kaia Kanepi in three sets. For most of the afternoon, though, fans were treated to the world's best players looking exactly that.
The big-time upsets might just have to wait for Day 2. With that in mind, let's check in on some of the day's most notable results from Roland Garros.
|Serena Williams (1)||Alize Lim||6–2, 6–1|
|Agnieszka Radwanska (3)||Zhang Shuai||6–3, 5–0|
|Venus Williams (29)||Belinda Bencic||6–4, 6–1|
|Carla Suárez Navarro (14)||Yuliya Beygelzimer||7-5, 7-5|
|Daniela Hantuchova (31)||Jovana Jaksic||2-6, 6-2, 6-4|
|Monica Niculescu||Kaia Kanepi (25)||5-7, 6-3, 6-1|
|Angelique Kerber (8)||Katarzyna Piter||6-3, 6-1|
|Roger Federer (4)||Lukas Lacko||6–2, 6–4, 6–2|
|Milos Raonic (8)||Nick Kyrgios||6–3, 7–6 (1), 6–3|
|Tomas Berdych (6)||Peter Polansky||6-3, 6-4, 6-4|
|John Isner (10)||Pierre-Hugues Herbert||7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-5|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (13)||Edouard Roger-Vasselin||7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-2|
|Jerzy Janowicz (22)||Victor Estrella Burgos||6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4|
|Dmitry Tursunov (31)||Potito Starace||6-1, 7-5, 6-2|
|Alexandr Dolgopolov (20)||Albert Ramos||7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1|
For full results go to RolandGarros.com.
Federer Dominates Lacko
Roger Federer has won just one French Open title in his illustrious career. Clay is the only surface that has chipped away at his otherwise impenetrable armor. On grass and hard courts, Federer has long carried an elite overall record while his clay outlook drags behind.
If Sunday's opening-round win over Lacko is any indication, though, Federer may have one last deep Roland Garros run in him. The fourth-seeded Swiss defeated Lacko, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, in a straight-set romp that continues his renaissance 2014 campaign.
Dominant with his service from the outset, Federer won 89 percent of his first-serve points and hit seven aces. His first-serve power consistently got Lacko off balance for easy winners and controlled the pace throughout.
"I was happy seeing, getting early signs out of the match that I was actually playing well and I was going to get my chances I was looking for," Federer said, per an Associated Press report. "My personal life, as we know, it's all great, so I'm happy the family is here."
Federer is playing in just his third clay-court tournament of the year. He took a brief sabbatical from the game when he and his wife welcomed their second set of twins in early May. Frenchman Jeremy Chardy upset Federer in his first match at the Italian Open, leaving him essentially a full month away from competitive tennis coming into Saturday.
It didn't matter.
Federer's serve touched 200 kmh, and he needed just 84 minutes to clear center court.
Lacko, while he kept a cool outer demeanor, struggled to find any advantage. He pressed himself to five double faults on serves, floundered when Federer came charging at the net and won barely over half of his service points overall.
58 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments for Roger Federer and no end yet in sight. Remarkable— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 25, 2014
Of course, this result was largely expected. Federer has made the quarterfinals in nine straight French Open appearances. The question isn't whether he can take care of the bottom half of his bracket; it's whether he's equipped to battle Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The draw allowed Federer to miss out on a Nadal matchup before the final, but Djokovic looms in his half of the bracket, as does Berdych. The road to the final will be far from easy.
Williams Sisters Advance with Ease, Potential Round 3 Clash Looms
Like Myspace, GeoCities and human-to-human interaction, the days of the all-Williams final are gone. Venus is currently ranked No. 32 in the world and hasn't even sniffed a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2010 U.S. Open. While Serena has built her way back into monolith status, Venus seems mostly satisfied simply being able to play after her myriad injury issues.
That said, when the two have the chance to share the court, it's impossible to not get excited. Such is the case in Roland Garros, where the Williams sisters sit in the same bracket and seemed destined for a Round 3 matchup.
Neither did much to quell those hopes Sunday.
Serena and Venus came through with straight-set victories that were rarely in question.
Serena defeated Alize Lim 6-1, 6-2, in a contest that was at times far more competitive than the final line indicated. Williams made 36 unforced errors to Lim's 12, and the upstart Frenchwoman competed when she held serve.
The problem was Lim never could quite finish the job. She went 0-of-7 on break opportunities, won just seven second-serve points and had only seven winners compared to 37 for Williams.
"I'm really proud of her. She's just rising in the rankings really, really well," Serena said of Lim, per BBC Sport. "We train in the same facilities. It's fun—we just kind of all get along."
Venus had nearly as easy of a time taking care of Belinda Bencic. The 29th-seeded American won 6-4, 6-1, against the 17-year-old, who was playing in her first French Open as a professional. Bencic earlier this season reached the Australian Open second round as a quarterfinalist.
In her second major, she unfortunately ran into Venus at nearly the top of her game. Finding accuracy with her first serve was an issue—Williams faulted on more than half of her first attempts—but it was an otherwise solid performance. She scored six break points, moved fluidly toward the net and hit 21 winners.
Bencic, meanwhile, had just eight winners and 18 unforced errors.
Heavy favorites coming into their matches, the important thing here is that the Williams-Williams Round 3 dream is still alive. Spaniard Garbine Muguruza Blanco, who made the fourth round at the Australian, awaits Serena. Venus will take on Anna Schmiedlova.
Given the solid all-around performances of both on Sunday, there should be little stopping an interesting late-career battle between two of the best women's tennis players in history.
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