French Open 2011 First Round: What We Learned
As is true in any major tournament, the first round of the 2011 French Open had both its highs and lows. From Caroline Wozniacki's dominating performance to Rafael Nadal's tough battle, this year's French Open has already given fans plenty of storylines to follow.
Now that the first round is complete in both Men's and Women's Singles, below are the major storylines that were sparked during the first round at Roland Garros.
Wozniacki Poised to Win First Major
In golf, the dubious distinction "Best Player to Have Never Won a Major" is often thrown around, and it's clear that world number one Caroline Wozniacki holds that bittersweet title in tennis. Critics of the top-seeded Dane have said that she needs to win a major in order to prove that she is really the world's best player.
Fortunately for Wozniacki, she appears to be on the cusp of winning her first major title. Wozniacki completely overwhelmed Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-0, 6-2 in her first round match, and with Venus and Serena Williams absent from the tournament and Kim Clijsters nursing an injury, Wozniacki is looking more and more like the one to beat in Paris.
Nadal Isn't Invincible
With all of the talk on the potential final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, many people have overlooked the fact that both Nadal and Djokovic have very tricky draws. A tricky draw plus an apparent lack of confidence definitely isn't a good combination for the five-time French Open champion from Spain.
Nadal was more than tested in his first round match against the big American John Isner, but it was his stubbornness and visible lack of confidence that were troubling. Throughout the match, Nadal stood about ten feet behind the baseline and watched as Isner used wide serves followed by drop shots to consistently win points. On top of that, Nadal was the one who cracked in the big moments, which included two tiebreaks.
While it's always nice to see Nadal fight for the victory in a closely-fought battle, one has to wonder if the Spaniards' losses to his Serbian rival in recent weeks have affected him.
Can the "Cow on Ice" Make a Deep Run?
After taking the title in Rome, Maria Sharapova became a trendy pick for the French Open title. Though the seventh seeded Russian definitely wouldn't say that she is the best mover on clay, her mental toughness and fighting spirit have helped her to play better than ever on her worst surface.
In the first round, Sharapova looked solid and in control during her 6-3, 6-0 win over the veteran Croat Mirjana Lucic. What may be even more important for Sharapova is that she looks to have a relatively easy draw. The only major threat in her quarter is Kim Clijsters, who is nursing an injury.
Not All Serbs Are Created the Same
After Round One, Who is your Favorite to Win the Men's Fren Open Title?
Just a few years ago the tennis world was abuzz about the Serbian trio that was taking the sport by storm. Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic looked to have the potential to rise to the top of the game, but these three have definitely taken different paths since then.
Novak Djokovic is on top of the world right now. Not only has he had an undefeated start to the year, which included an Australian Open title, but he appears to be one of the favorites to take the title (with Nadal, of course). In the first round, Djokovic looked untroubled in his 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Thiemo De Bakker and he appears to be playing at the level that could lead him to the number 1 ranking and his first French Open title.
Ana Ivanovic, on the other hand, couldn't be any lower at the moment. It's one thing for her to lose in the first round of the Australian Open, but to lose in the first round of the French Open is a whole different story. Just three years ago, Ivanovic was on top of the world at Roland Garros after winning her first major title and gaining the number one ranking in the world. This year, however, her tournament ended with her walking off of the court in tears after just one match.
Jelena Jankovic hasn't done much of anything either positively or negatively recently and that was further emphasized by her first round match at Roland Garros. The tenth seeded Jankovic was untroubled in her 6-3, 6-1 victory, and while she looked good overall, it was nothing spectacular. If Jankovic wants to make a statement in this year's French Open, she will likely have to go through last year's winner Francesca Schiavone, which will be a tall order.
After Round One, Who is Your Favorite to Win the Women's French Open Title?
No More Excuses for Britain's Favorite Son
Is this the moment that Andy Murray finally wins a major title? After making the final of the Australian Open, the fourth seeded Murray is looking to have another strong showing in a major. Sure, clay isn't Murray's best surface, but showed that he has improved tremendously on the dirt, as he nearly beat Novak Djokovic in a scintillating semifinal match in Rome.
In his first round match at Roland Garros, the 24-year-old Brit easily defeated French qualifier Eric Prodon 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. He looked solid on la terre battue, and his draw is by far the easiest of the top men, which should bode well for the fourth-ranked player in the world.
Going into the tournament, Murray's biggest threat in his quarter was Nicolas Almagro, but after he was bounced in the first round, the fourth seed looks to be the heavy favorite to advance out of his quarter.
Dark Horses: Goerges, Ferrer?
Who is flying under the radar after playing solid first round matches? That would be Julie Goerges and David Ferrer.
The seventeenth seeded Goerges has been strong during this year's clay court season, as defeated world number one both Caroline Wozniacki en route to taking the title in Stuttgart and advancing to the semifinals in Madrid. The 22-year-old has yet to advance past the third round of a major, but her first round 6-1, 6-4 victory over Mathilde Johansson showed that the German is definitely a dangerous player to face on the clay.
David Ferrer may be the seventh seed in the tournament and his strong clay court resume would lead one to believe that he could make a deep run in Paris. His workman-like 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Jarkko Nieminen definitely started his tournament off on a good foot. Sure, Ferrer will likely have to go through Roger Federer if he wants to better his past quarterfinal appearances in Paris, but this could very well be his best opportunity to get his first win against Fed.
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