The 2014 French Open at Roland Garros is underway, as Round 1 has already delivered some promising results that speak to how competitive this tournament will be as we advance into future rounds.
The red clay Grand Slam has been dominated in recent history by Rafael Nadal, though the field of competitors this year is deep, and there are multiple players who could find themselves in position to contend for the title.
In Round 1 on Sunday, some of those players showed why they shouldn't be overlooked.
The 2014 French Open promises to be one of the best events on the schedule this season. Here are the most promising results from Round 1 of the tourney.
Roger Federer defeated Lukas Lacko
It was business as usual for Roger Federer on Sunday.
The Swiss star took down Lukas Lacko, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, to earn a not-so-shocking win in Round 1 at Roland Garros. He won five of his 11 break points and dominated Lacko for nearly the entire match.
Federer played without nerves in the match—likely because of the inferior opponent—but he also told reporters that he was only a little nervous before the match started, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN:
I wasn't nervous actually going into the match. It's more just like those hints of fear, maybe yesterday, maybe this morning at one point, just for like five seconds, `Oh, I really hope I don't have to pack my bags today,' that kind of feeling.
Seeing Federer win in Round 1 so decisively should instill hope for a star-studded finish to this tournament. Despite playing in just two clay court tournaments this season, Federer appeared polished on the surface.
He faced no real issues and handled Lacko easily. The fact that he won so easily would suggest that he'll have similar success in Round 2 and beyond. While it won't be easy for anyone to oust Nadal on this surface, Federer has a great chance of being the guy.
John Isner defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert
American John Isner was on his game on Sunday, hitting 23 aces and defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert—7-6, 7-6, 7-5. It took Isner over two hours to defeat the wild-card entrant from France, but regardless, the American will be moving on to Round 2 of the tournament.
After seeing defeat in Round 3 of both the 2010 and 2013 French Open, Isner is looking to improve and get even farther in the tournament this year. He is very good on clay, which should give him the advantage over those who struggle on the surface.
He said just how good he was on clay when in Madrid, via Hannah Wilks of LiveTennis.com:
Clay does suit my game very well. I’ve had some very good results on clay and I’ve had some results that haven’t been so good. Sometimes it’s a bit of a slower surface. I think more than that, it bounces up high, which I like because I’m so big. When it’s warm and sunny […] it actually plays pretty fast and the ball bounces up high.
At 6'10", Isner certainly benefits from the higher hops. Shorter players need to reach higher above their shoulders to return serves and other shots. Isner can simply rotate his hips and strike the ball when it is at his core. This will help him moving forward.
I like Isner as an underdog to make it to the quarterfinals.
Milos Raonic defeated Nick Kyrgios
Canadian Milos Raonic, known for having one of the most devastating serves in men's tennis, got off to a nice start at Roland Garros against Australian Nick Kyrgios. Raonic won, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
For Raonic, it was all about getting into Kyrgios' head during the match. Kyrgios was the inferior player, but he did himself in by getting frustrated midway through the match. Robert Woodward from The Globe and Mail broke down what happened:
The eighth seed [Raonic] was broken midway through the second but recovered immediately, leaving his 19-year-old opponent to hurl his racket to the court, shaking his head.
The Australian got increasingly frustrated through the second-set tiebreak, berating himself repeatedly, before Raonic took it 7-1.
Raonic served out to win the third set on his third match point.
The inexperience of Kyrgios was apparent here. At 19 years old, the Australian still has much to learn about playing on one of the biggest stages in men's tennis. Raonic took advantage, utilizing his sizzling serve to earn point after point in the third.
This serve makes Raonic dangerous moving forward. He has had success on clay in the past, so it's not out of the question to see him advance past Round 3.