While the first day of the 2013 French Open went virtually according to plan, there was still plenty of excitement for the start of the second Grand Slam of the year.
Only a handful of underdogs were able to advance into the second round at Roland Garros. Among them was Monica Puig, who defeated No. 11 Nadia Petrova on the women's side in the largest upset of the day. Venus Williams was also eliminated in the first round after losing to Urszula Radwanska.
Still, the bigger names like Roger Federer and Serena Williams moved on to the next round. In all likelihood, it will be a while until either of these top contenders is challenged. While neither has had as much success on clay as other surfaces, both should both go far in this tournament.
Here is a look at the biggest matches and what you need to know after Day 1 of the French Open.
Notable Matches (Full Results at RolandGarros.com)
|No. 2 Roger Federer def. Pablo Carreno-Busta||6-2, 6-2, 6-3|
|No. 4 David Ferrer def. Marinko Matosevic||6-4, 6-3, 6-4|
|No. 14 Milos Raonic def. Xavier Malisse||6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4|
|No. 15 Gilles Simon def. Lleyton Hewitt||3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5|
No. 18 Sam Querrey def. Lukas Lacko
|6-3, 6-4, 6-4|
No. 20 Andreas Seppi def. Leonardo Mayer
|6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4|
|No. 1 Serena Williams def. Anna Tatishvili||6-0, 6-1|
|No. 5 Sara Errani def. Arantxa Rus||6-2, 6-1|
Monica Puig def. No. 11 Nadia Petrova
|3-6, 7-5, 6-4|
No. 14 Ana Ivanovic def. Petra Martic
|6-1, 3-6, 6-3|
Urszula Radwanska vs. No. 30 Venus Williams
|7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4|
Serena Williams Is Almost Flawless
As good as Serena Williams has performed over the past year, it is no surprise that she enters this tournament as the overwhelming favorite in the women's draw. She has defeated the top competitors in the world with relative ease on every surface.
At this point, you almost have to feel sorry for the challengers that face her in the early round.
On Sunday, Anna Tatishvili had that role and did not have much to brag about. She was only able to win one game and never even reached break point while her opponent had the serve.
Williams lost in the opening round at Roland Garros a year ago, but she worked to make sure that did not happen again this time around. With 27 winners and only 14 unforced errors, she was able to finish the match in only 51 minutes.
As long as the top seed is playing her game and is getting the serve in play, there is not much an opponent can do. The rest of the field is officially on notice.
Roger Federer Cruises in First Round
While Roger Federer was not as dominant as Williams in the opening match, the result was never truly in doubt.
The Swiss player was excellent in service games. He not only won 83 percent of his first serves, but he also had an incredible 74 percent success rate with his second serves. He was aggressive in rallies and won 14 of 18 times when approaching the net.
Additionally, he won all seven of his break opportunities, giving Pablo Carreno-Busta very little chance to stay in the match despite winning a couple of games in each set.
As good as he played, however, there are still questions whether Federer can win the entire tournament. Rafael Nadal enters as the overwhelming favorite after winning here in seven of the last eight years.
Still, the veteran is old enough to not care about outside expectations, according to his post-match quote (via @RolandGarros):
Roland Garros @rolandgarros
#Federer in press: "Am I a favorite or not? I don't care b/c it doesn't give me any more opportunities to win" #RG13 http://t.co/4aT6IEJdlT5/26/2013, 4:22:16 PM
Federer has a relatively easy run to the finals, so the pressure is on him to advancing deep into the French Open.
Lleyton Hewitt Gives Gilles Simon All He's Got
Thanks to the overall dominance over the past decade by the top players in the sport, there are few active players who have ever won a Grand Slam tournament. With Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Murray both dropping out, it left only four players in the field with major wins in their career.
Most would be able to name Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but many forget that Lleyton Hewitt won both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon at the beginning of the century.
While it has been a long time since Hewitt was a top contender, he still has the talent to give anyone trouble, and that is exactly what he did on Sunday against No. 15 Gilles Simon.
The Australian got out to a great start and won the first two sets 6-3, 6-1. Unfortunately, that is where the favorite stepped up his efforts and won the final three sets to advance to the second round.
Simon is one of France's best hopes for a long run in this field, and the local showed that he has what it takes to win a tough match when he is not playing well. This should serve him well in the upcoming rounds.
As for Hewitt, this was yet another disappointing loss after many years of similar results. Matt Zemek had an accurate narrative for the once-great star:
Matt Zemek @mzemek
Lleyton Hewitt has become accustomed to this kind of send-off at the majors of late: grit, determination, willpower, hustle... and a tough L5/26/2013, 1:42:32 PM
Unfortunately, it seems like he will have to wait for yet another event to make his mark.
Venus Williams Loses Early
Coming into the tournament, few players in the field had more experience in big matches than Venus Williams. She also had an incredible record in opening round of Grand Slams, according to Roland Garros:
Roland Garros @rolandgarros
Venus Williams is making her 59th Grand Slam main draw appearance. She is 54-4 in Grand Slam R128 matches, incl. 14-1 at RG. #RG135/26/2013, 4:06:28 PM
She was not as successful on Sunday, although she was a part of one of the best matches of the day.
Each of the first two sets against Urszula Radwanska went to a tiebreak, and Williams was almost beaten in straight sets. After falling behind 4-0 in the second tiebreak, however, she came back and won four points in a row to stay alive.
This momentum ended up being short-lived, as Radwanska held the upper-hand in the third and final set, winning 6-4.
Ben Rothenberger of the New York Times mentions how exciting the match was overall:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Urszula Radwanska def. Venus Williams in a 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 first round classic that lasted 3h19m. Take a bow, ladies. Bar set high at #rg13.5/26/2013, 7:32:09 PM
While the back-and-forth battle was clearly a high-point of the day, it is still yet another disappointing early exit for the seven-time Grand Slam winner.
Other Favorites Do What It Takes to Advance
Two competitors two watch outside of the "Big Three" are David Ferrer and Milos Raonic, and both were in action on Day 1.
Ferrer has been spectacular in his career on clay and even gave Nadal a run for his money in their most recent battle earlier this month. On Sunday, he easily disposed of Marinko Matosevic with a victory in straight sets.
He moves on to face the winner of Steve Johnson and Albert Montanes, but it would not be surprising to see him advance to the semifinals or beyond.
Meanwhile, Raonic continues to get better and it will not be long until the 22-year-old Canadian is a top contender at Grand Slam events. He needed four sets to get passed Xavier Malisse, but he is still in good shape for a deep run.
Top-seeded American Sam Querrey also had a strong start with a straight-set victory over Lukas Lacko. It is tough to imagine too deep of a run in this event, but you can expect him to give everything he has to stay alive as along as possible.
On the women's side, watch out for Sara Errani to make noise as the No. 5 seed. She won 6-1, 6-2 over Arantxa Rus on Day 1, and sent a message to the rest of the field in the process.
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