Smooth progress for big names in Paris

BY: Grant Fisken

The opening two days of the 2015 French Open have been a gentle introduction to the season’s second major for the leading players in both the men’s and women’s competition, with shocks at a premium.

In the men’s first round, Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych all cruised to straight-sets victories. Federer’s main obstacle in his passage to the second round came after his win against Colombian Alejandro Falla, when he was accosted on court by a young fan wanting to have a selfie with him. Tournament director Gilbert Ysern played down the incident but apologised to the Swiss player. In round two, Federer will play Marcel Granollers who equalled his best performance at Roland Garros last year when he reached the fourth round.

The highest men’s seed to fall at the first hurdle so far is number 11 Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard was beaten comfortably in straight-sets by Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili, and continues his miserable French Open record that has seen him reach the fourth round in only one of his 15 appearances at Roland Garros. The other seeds to lose were Ivo Karlovic (25), Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (26) and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (30) after defeats against Marcos Baghdatis, Steve Johnson and Jurgen Melzer respectively.

It has been a largely positive start for the home hopefuls with five Frenchmen already through to round two, including seeds Gilles Simon (12), Gael Monfils (13) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14). No French player has reached the final at Roland Garros since 1988 when Henri Leconte was beaten by Mats Wilander. Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic both begin their campaigns on day three (Tuesday).

Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams were the biggest casualties of the first two days of the women’s singles. Radwanska, seeded 14th, is the highest-ranked woman to depart Roland Garros so far. The Polish player’s poor recent form continued after losing in three sets against German Annika Beck. Williams (15) was beaten in straight-sets by fellow US player Sloane Stephens, and exited a grand slam event in the opening round for the third time in her last seven majors.Barbora Strycova (22), Peng Shuai (24) and Caroline Garcia (31) are the other seeds already out.

There were no such problems for defending champion Maria Sharapova, not on the court anyway. The Russian beat Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 6-2 6-4 but was jeered by the fans on Philippe Chatrier for avoiding her post-match interview. The number two seed cited a cold as her reason for making a quick exit after her win. She faces fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko in round two. Among the names joining Sharapova in the next round are Simona Halep (3), Ana Ivanovic (7), Carla Suarez Navarro (8) and Ekaterina Makarova (9).

Serena Williams begins her quest to become the first player to win the opening two grand slam events of the year since Jennifer Capriati (2001), against Czech Andrea Hlavackova on day three.

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