Here's a report on the first two days of action in Paris:
The headline result of the opening round so far saw Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeat 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in four sets, the last of which saw the Swiss fail to register a game. Wawrinka was competing in his first Grand Slam match as a winner of one of tennis' four blue riband events, and the pressure that came with his new-found status as one of the big guns took its toll, causing the Australian Open champion to fall at the first hurdle in Paris. Visibly nervous, Stan fought back from a set down to level the match, but his game only deteriorated from that point, as his unforced error tally sky-rocketed and his opponent grew more and more comfortable with his own game plan.
Garcia-Lopez was always going to be among the trickiest of the unseeded men in the draw, particularly on clay, but Wawrinka knows as well as anyone that he still has the weapons to get past the Spaniard, especially on a surface that he has always been at or near his best level. Today, all the doubts that the Swiss number one has had since winning in Melbourne about whether he can continue to play at that level and establish himself at the very top rung of the tennis ladder were realised. Defeated in the first round of a Grand Slam, and in relatively convincing fashion, while the whole world was watching will hurt him for a while, but you've got to hope that this loss will take the pressure off Wawrinka in the long run and allow him to play with a bit more freedom from hereon in so that we can see the kind of confident, consistent big hitting that elevated him to the position he now holds in the sport in the first place.
Implications of Wawrinka's loss
The primary benefactor of Stan's surprise loss will most likely be Andy Murray, who is now the highest seeded player in that quarter of the draw. The British number one no longer faces the prospect of a quarter-final against the man who ended his US Open defence in such convincing style last year, but may not be all that excited about another five-set clay encounter with Fabio Fognini, who crushed him on Italian soil in the Davis Cup a couple of months ago. Gael Monfils and Feliciano Lopez are the other seeds remaining in that section of the draw, and it's certainly an area to watch, as Murray's relative weakness on clay will be a source of optimism for the aforementioned men if they can get as far as the last eight.
Kei Nishikori was another top ten player to leave the French Open early as he was defeated in straight sets by Martin Klizan. Clearly not still at full fitness, the Japanese was uncomfortable on serve, inconsistent off the ground and bereft of any real fighting spirit. Nishikori was tipped by many to reach the quarter-finals from that section of the draw, but his loss will shift the impetus to Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgopolov, with a last eight clash with Novak Djokovic up for grabs.
Julien Benneteau and Facundo Bagnis played the second-longest 5th set in Roland Garros history in their first round clash, as the Frenchman recovered from two sets down only to lose to the Argentine qualifier, making his Grand Slam debut, 18-16 in the deciding set. Meanwhile, the opening round has seen routine wins for Federer, Raonic, Isner, Nadal, Djokovic and Berdych. Tuesday's line-up sees the last two of the top ten seeds - Andy Murray and 2013 finalist David Ferrer - take to court to open their campaigns.
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