Main favorites for the Roland Garros title in men’s tournament were victorious, but despite of victory, some of them were on the brink of elimination!
Right after the draw was made it was expected that top four seeds in men’s tournament, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Nadal would easily cruise to the second round, without dropping a single set. Some of them defeated their first round opponents swiftly, as it was expected, but some of them had huge problems to survive!
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal didn’t have problems against Yen Hsun Lu and Sam Groth. That was totally expected, since Lu won two out of ten matches on Roland Garros prior to this year, while Groth played in a main draw only once, last year, and lost the first round match.
Nadal gave Groth only three games in the whole match, which evoked memories of his brutal dominance on Paris clay. Of course, we can’t tell much based on this match, since Groth is not anywhere near a player who can at least put up a fight against Nadal, even when he is not at his peak. But, for Nadal it is very important to build up self confidence before the crucial matches against fellow top ten players, so the start of the tournament is a dream come true for him.
Djokovic had some difficulties against Lu in the first set, he made more than ten unforced errors in that period of the match, but as the time passed Lu’s baseline shots were weaker and less precise and the best tennis player in the world routinely won the remaining sets and qualified for the second round.
Stan Wawrinka had huge problems against Lucas Rosol, who led by 2:1, but fell in the deciding set. The Swiss wasn’t in the mood and didn’t play like we were all used to in the past two or three years, but Rosol is always motivated and dangerous against top ten players and that was the case in this match, too. Rosol surprisingly coped very well against Wawrinka’s backhand and he even won most of those backhand on backhand baseline points in the first three sets, but in the fourth and the fifth set he started to make more unforced errors. On the other hand, Wawrinka stabilized and earned a hard fought victory in the end.
Andy Murray had the biggest problems to overcome the challenge from Radek Stepanek, who led by 2:0! Murray stabilized and won the third set by 6:0 and led by 4:2 in the fourth before the match had to be interrupted because it was too dark to continue. In the fifth set Stepanek was very near breaking Murray’s serve in the 10th game, which would have given him the match, but Murray stayed strong and won the deciding set by 7:5.
If we look at the first matches of all major favorites, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal should be regarded as the only candidates for the title. However, we are all aware of the fact that Wawrinka is very dangerous when he reaches the final rounds and that Murray with his stable defensive play can defeat everyone, so the tournament should be very exciting until the very end.