The rains came and washed away a good portion of Monday's action at the 2014 French Open—just not enough to stop it from being a far more interesting set of matches than a day prior.
Twenty-four hours after the French Open field produced few surprises, excitement sprang on Roland Garros in the form of upsets and high-profile players slogging through competitive matches. On the men's side, Kei Nishikori and Stanislas Wawrinka became the first two top-10 seeds to lose. For the women, 17th-seeded Roberta Vinci had her trip to Paris cut short.
But the story of the day was rain, which caused multiple delays in action and the cancellation of matches. Novak Djokovic waited through two different downpours and struggled with his rhythm in his first-round defeat of Joao Sousa. Vinci held an early 3-1 lead over Pauline Parmentier before the delay, and the Frenchwoman took advantage of the break to compose herself in time to pull the upset.
The French Open announced the final match on eight different courts would be canceled, which could lead to a crowded Tuesday afternoon:
The last matches for Courts 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15 and 16 have been cancelled for today. They'll be scheduled for tomorrow #RG14— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 26, 2014
Fifteenth-seeded American Sloane Stephens was chief among those who had their opening round delayed by a day. Stephens will take on Shuai Peng on Tuesday as she looks to improve on her fourth-round performance a year ago.
For the most part, though, the French Open was able to get through the day's most notable contests. Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal were all able to reward fans who stayed through the inclement weather. Considering the stars are the reason most fans show up for the early days, it's hard to bemoan the difficulties too much.
With that in mind, here is a quick breakdown of everything that happened on Day 2 at Roland Garros.
|Maria Sharapova (7)||Ksenia Pervak||6-1, 6-2|
|Dominika Cibulkova (9)||Virginie Razzano||7-5, 6-0|
|Eugenie Bouchard (18)||Shahar Peer||6-0, 6-2|
|Sabine Lisicki (16)||Fiona Ferro||6-1, 7-5|
|Pauline Parmentier||Roberta Vinci (17)||3-6, 6-3, 6-2|
|Flavia Pennetta (12)||Patricia Mayr-Achleitner||6-2, 6-2|
|Alize Cornet (20)||Ashleigh Barty||6-2, 6-1|
|Samantha Stosur (19)||Monica Puig||6-1, 6-1|
|Elena Vesnina (32)||Christina McHale||7-6(0), 4-6, 6-3|
|Novak Djokovic (2)||Joao Sousa||6-1, 6-2, 6-4|
|Gilles Simon (29)||Ante Pavic||6-1, 6-1, 6-3|
|Martin Klizan||Kei Nishikori (9)||7-6(4), 6-1, 6-2|
|Marin Cilic (25)||Pablo Andujar||6-0, 6-3, 7-6(6)|
|Rafael Nadal (1)||Robby Ginepri||6-0, 6-3, 6-0|
|Fabio Fognini (14)||Andreas Beck||6-4, 6-4, 6-1|
|Teymuraz Gabashvili||Vasek Pospisil (30)||6-4, 6-2, 6-3|
|Roberto Bautista Agut (27)||Paolo Lorenzi||6-3, 7-5, 6-2|
|Feliciano Lopez (26)||Damir Dzumhur||6-3, 7-6(8), 6-3|
|Guillermo Garcia-Lopez||Stanislas Wawrinka (3)||6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0|
Sharapova, Djokovic Advance in Straight Sets
In many ways, Djokovic and Sharapova came into Paris sharing a similar storyline. Both were attempting to slay monoliths of their sport—ones who have given them trouble in the past. For Sharapova, it's Serena Williams and her 15-match winning streak against the Russian. For Djokovic, it's Nadal and his ever-looming presence as an unstoppable force at Roland Garros.
Few expect either to have much trouble prior to a collision course with their rivals. Sharapova and Djokovic both got off to a good start, advancing past their first-round opponent in straight sets.
Sharapova took just 61 minutes to dispatch of Ksenia Pervak 6-1, 6-2. The No. 7 seed has won 11 straight first-round matches at Roland Garros and 16 straight at Grand Slam tournaments overall.
The match was essentially a start-to-finish shellacking. Despite struggling a bit with accuracy, Sharapova won 92 percent of her first-serve points and had four aces. With the ominous skies looming, it was obvious Sharapova had no plans on sitting through a lengthy rain delay and played like it.
"It's always nice to get out there on a day like this. It's good to play first match, as you know," Sharapova said, per ESPN.com. "Hopefully you'll be able to finish the match today with the weather conditions being as they are. It's always nice to get through."
Sharapova takes on Tsvetana Pironkova in Round 2. Unfortunately, the draw made it so her collision with Williams will come in the quarterfinals if both advance. Based on the way the two have played so far, it's a pretty good bet.
Djokovic earned a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Joao Sousa, but his trek was far more difficult than Sharapova's. The match took 110 minutes not including the rain delay, and Djokovic obviously struggled a bit with his rhythm. The second-seeded Serb made 33 unforced errors and allowed Sousa numerous chances to play himself into the match before righting the ship just in time.
Djokovic through vs. Sousa, not without some difficulty in 3d set, but no sense quibbling with 6-1, 6-2, 6-4— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 26, 2014
Sousa, 25, rarely seemed intimidated and was a little emboldened after the rain delay. The final scoresheet made the match look like a blowout, yet anyone watching could see Djokovic's strain to get over the hump.
Nevertheless, a straight-sets win is still a straight-sets win. If this is what Djokovic is going to look like when he's "struggling," then everyone in the field minus Nadal is in trouble. The pair won't meet until the finals—if they do at all. These early-round matches will merely be a whetting of the appetite.
Nishikori, Vinci Get the Upset Train Started
On Day 1, the most high-profile upset was 25th-seeded woman Kaia Kanepi. While not foundational losses, Day 2 was at least slightly less predictable.
Nishikori's loss to Martin Klizan was especially surprising because some considered him a sleeper contender. Ranked No. 10 in the world, Nishikori was in the midst of his finest career season. He boasted wins at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships and Barcelona Open this season and also pushed Nadal to three sets in their Madrid Open final.
To see him lose this early is a surprise. To see the ease with which Klizan dispatched of him is a major shock. The Slovak went 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-2 in a straight-sets romp that was rarely out of his control after the first set. He broke Nishikori six times, won nearly three quarters of his first-serve points and took advantage of numerous mistakes from his opponent.
Nishikori, who has battled back issues, double-faulted 10 times and made 40 unforced errors. Too often all Klizan had to do was sit around and wait for the 24-year-old upstart to shoot himself in the foot.
“I didn’t have much practice,” Nishikori said, per Naila-Jean Meyers of The New York Times. “First time playing points after Madrid, so I didn’t have much rhythm. And also serve, I didn’t hit any serve 100 percent, you know, before today. So I thought it’s going to get better, get more rhythm after couple sets, but I couldn’t. So I couldn’t do anything today.”
Klizan has now made the second round in Paris each of the last three years. Robin Haase, who has also never made it past Round 2, awaits in his next match.
Vinci, meanwhile, can at least partially blame the rain for her 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 defeat by Parmentier. Up 3-1 in the first set when the rain came, Vinci managed to finish off the first set but never recaptured her previous momentum. Parmentier won 77 percent of her first-serve points and hit 27 winners, as the pair traded long rallies.
Both women made a ton of unforced errors, and were only separated by two points (78-76) overall. It was Parmentier's ability to make shots when they counted that put her over the edge.
The 28-year-old matches her finest French Open performance with the win. Her second-round opponent is Yaroslava Shvedova, who has twice gone to the French quarterfinals. The disparities between the pair's resumes likely makes Parmentier a pretty significant underdog.
Not that it stopped her Monday or anything.
Nadal Wins 29th Straight at Roland Garros
Nadal was back in his comfort zone Monday. Back to the place he won his first major title, the place that helped him cement his legacy, the place where he has been almost unstoppable for nearly a decade.
The world's top-ranked player needed only 102 minutes to defeat Robby Ginepri 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 on Monday to earn his 29 straight victory in Paris. Nadal now holds a 60-1 career record at Roland Garros, his only defeat coming in the fourth round a half-decade ago.
Though far from perfect, Nadal won 87 percent of his first-serve chances and overwhelmed Ginepri with a series of strong returns. The 31-year-old American was broken eight times and failed to stop Nadal on his serve once, as the match teetered into a series of pratfalls.
With Nadal firmly in command, Ginepri pressed himself into making 41 unforced errors. He double-faulted four times and failed to win half of his service points overall, as the talent chasm grew more apparent with every shot.
Nadal needed a relatively few 27 winners due to Ginepri's mistakes and made 15 unforced errors of his own. The Spaniard struggled with serve accuracy, landing 58 percent of his first serves in play. But once the volley game started, Nadal was typically dominant at Roland Garros.
Paul-Henri Mathieu and Dominic Thiem vie to face Nadal in Round 2 on Monday. Nadal has defeated Mathieu each of the first 10 times they've faced off, while the up-and-comer Thiem has never faced the world No. 1. Thiem is playing in his second Slam ever after reaching the second round in Melbourne earlier this year.
Either way, both men will have a seemingly insurmountable climb against Nadal upcoming. Some wondered whether he might be slipping a bit after his clay-court loss to Djokovic in Italy. Wonder no longer.
Wawrinka Gets Upset in Shocker
Not long after Nadal closed out his first-round win, his side of the bracket got infinitely easier. In easily the most notable result of the first two days, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez upset third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 to the surprise of everyone at Roland Garros.
It was hands down one of the worst performances of Wawrinka's career. He made an incredible 62 unforced errors, won barely over half of his first-serve points and looked wildly out of form or ill-prepared for the match. Maybe both.
Although credit goes to Garcia-Lopez, he probably would have had to actively try to lose this match. The Spaniard won three quarters of his first serves, broke Wawrinka eight times and overcame five double faults of his own to earn his seventh career French Open win.
Nowhere was Wawrinka more out of sorts than in the deciding set. Wawrinka, obviously dispirited by Garcia-Lopez's third set win, laid a goose egg as he lacked obvious aggression. Garcia-Lopez needed only 24 minutes to finish off the fourth set—12 fewer than any of the previous three.
It's unclear whether Wawrinka gave up down the stretch or was so out of sorts that he lacked answers.
What is clear, however, is this is probably the biggest disappointment of the Swiss' career. Heading into Paris off his Australian Open triumph and as the third-ranked player in the world, there seemed to be an inescapable good vibe around Wawrinka. After years of being talented but unable to enter the "elite" conversation, it seemed he was finally putting it all together. His quarterfinal run at last season's French Open made him a conceivable threat to Nadal in the top side of the bracket.
Now, it might wind up being smooth sailing for Nadal.
As for Wawrinka, perhaps we should have expected this. Not exactly a first-round exit but one earlier than expected. The best predictor we have is history. Wawrinka's career history is littered with early-round exits in Grand Slams against less talented foes.
It was fair to think that maybe he'd gotten past those inconsistencies given his 2014 performance. Well...apparently not.
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