On the first Sunday of the second grand slam title of 2018, second seeded German Alexander Zverev and fourth seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov got their campaigns of to a flying start after straight sets win at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Also joining them are the French duo of Lucas Pouille and Gael Monfils, last year’s quarter finalist Pablo Carreno Busta, Kei Nishikori of Japan and Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina.
The fourth seeded Dimitrov, ranked fifth in the world, was scheduled to play the Serb Victor Troicki who withdrew with injury just one hour before the tournament started. His place was taken by the Lucky Loser Mohamed Safwat of Egypt, ranked a lowly 182nd in the world. Dimitrov, who was coming off two first round losses at Master’s series events in Madrid and Rome, hit 31 winners in his 6-1,6-4,7-6(1) win, which is just one short of his 50th win in a grand slam tournament.
The third ranked Zverev, who is seeded second in the absence of the 2009 champion Roger Federer, took only 69 minutes to dispatch the Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, 6-1,6-1,6-2. The German who had been beaten in the first round last year by the Spanish left hander Fernando Verdasco, enters the tournament after winning back to back titles in Munich and Madrid, and then finished runner up to Rafael Nadal in Rome where he was defending his title, the first of his career.
Fernando Verdasco of Spain, the man who upset Zverev last year in five sets, again required five sets to defeat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, playing on protected ranking. The 30th seeded Ferdasco won 6-7(4), 6-4,6-3,6-7(3),7-5. Another Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated the qualifier from Slovak Republic Josef Kovalik, ranked 147th in the world, with a hard fought 4-6,6-1,7-5,7-6(5) win.
In an eagerly awaiting first round match, the local hope Lucas Pouille, seeded 15th, proved too strong for the Russian Daniil Medvedev GenNext star as he won 6-2,6-3,6-4. The 32nd seeded Monfils beat fellow countryman and wildcard entrant Elliot Benchetrit 3-6,6-1,6-2,6-1.
The ninteenth seeded Kei Nishikori also beat another Frenchman wildcard entry Maxime Janvier 7-6(0),6-4,6-3. Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina, seeded 26th, took out the American qualifier Denis Kudla 6-4,6-2,6-2. Other winners on day one were the Americans Jared Donaldson and Radu Albot of Moldova who both required five sets to advance. Qualifier Martin Klizan of Austria and the Italian Matteo Berrettini prevailed in four sets.
The ninth seeded David Goffin who last year had a bizzare injury retirement as he got his foot stuck in a tarpaulin cover in the third round, came back all the way from a two set deficit against the Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6,4-6,6-4,6-1,6-0. He next faces the Frenchman Corentin Moutet who beat the 38 year old Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6(7),6-2,7-6(5). There were also wins for two Argentines Frederico Delbonis and Guido Andreozzi who had a five set win over the American Taylor Fritz.
In the women’s section of the draw, there was a major upset as the defending champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia was dumped 5-7,3-6 by little known Ukrainian Katerina Kozlova, ranked 66th in the world. Seven time grand slam champion Venus Williams suffered a shock 4-6,5-7 loss at the hands of Qiang Wang of China. The 37 year old Williams won five Wimbledon titles and also was a two time winner of the U.S. Open.
There were good wins for the fourth seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine who beat the Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5,6-3. The reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens was a 6-2,6-0 winner over the Frenchwoman Arantxa Rus.There was also disappointment for former finalist Sara Errani who lost to the local favourite Alize Corner 6-2,2-6,3-6. Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and Barbara Strycova of the Czech Republic.
Following is the list of matches to be played on Day 2 involving seeded players with my pick mentioned first :-
Novak Djokovic (20) v. Rogerio Dutra Silva (-)
Rafael Nadal (1) v. Simone Bolelli (-)
Stanislas Wawrinka (23) v. Guillermo Garcia Lopez (-)
Richard Gasquet (27) v. Andreas Seppi (-)
Dominic Thiem (7) v. Illya Ivashka (-)
John Isner (9) v. Noah Rubin (-)
Sam Querrey (12) v. Frances Tiafoe (-)
Roberto Bautista Agut (13) v. Denis Istomin (-)
Diego Schwartzman (11) v. Calvin Hemery (-)
Borna Coric (-) v. Phillip Kohlschreiber (22)
Giles Muller (29) v.Ernests Gulbis (-)
Mikhail Kukushkin (-) v. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (31).
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]