Dismal Day in Paris

 By Jane Voigt

May 27, 2014 — If yesterday didn’t dim your expectations at Roland Garros, today will.

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Crowds bundled in puffy coats and wooly hats watch Victor Hanescu and Gael Monfils in Stade Roland Garros, May 27. Photo credit, tennisclix.com

More gray skies and drizzle. More cold temperatures. More falling seeds. 

It began first thing this morning on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The No. 2 seed and reigning Australian Open champion Li Na (below, photo credit tennisclix.com) fell to Kristina Mladenovic of France, 75 36 61. “In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match,” Li Na told the press. “Today, [it was] not about the tennis game. It was about me.”

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Just 24 hours prior to this upset Stan Wawrinka (No. 3) lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a fine clay-courter who was certainly the steady player. “I tried to find anything but couldn’t,” Stan said. “I need to take a few days off and think about where I’m going and how to do it. Being No. 3 in the world is different.

Li and Wawrinka are the reigning Australian Open singles champions. Their departure dampened the already soggy atmosphere because it marked the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) that both Australian Open singles champions lost in the first round of Roland Garros.

There’s more.

Over on Court 1 Grigor Dimitrov (No. 11) was being crushed by meteoric serves off the racquet of 35-year-old Ivo Karlovic. Dimitrov was off balance and out of rhythm, so Dr. Ivo had his way in straight sets, 64 75 76(4). “He played really good,” Dimitrov said. “He was confident. His shots were good. He was all over the court.” 

That says a lot about the six-ten Croatian. Historically, big big guys don’t move well. And Karlovic’s right foot problems and a bought with a viral infection have sidelined him over the last year. Therefore when he fell to his knees after the win, the gratitude was almost palpable. Christopher Clarey of The New York Times talked to Karlovic, writing on Twitter that he was, “thankful for the chance to still get a big victory after all the health troubles.” 

The falling seed toll from the first two days is an enormous loss for the tournament, especially considering the fates of Li and Wawrinka. Yesterday Kei Nishikori (No. 9) lost to Martin Klizan, 76 61 62. Kei (pronounced ‘Kay’) was lackluster, his injuries still a problem. Nicolas Almagro (No. 21) retired after five games against American Jack Sock. More injuries. Tommy Haas (No. 16) also retired 2-5 down in the first set against Jurgen Zopp. Tommy’s right shoulder was too tender. It’s an ongoing problem with the 36-year-old who may, just may, be approaching the end of his career. 

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Caroline Wozniacki reaches to strike her signature backhand to Yanina Wickmayer today at the French Open. Looking thinner than usual, the Dane came up short
in her first-round match. Photo credit tennisclix.com

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Yanina Wickmayer didn’t hold back her enthusiasm as she upset Caroline Wozniacki, 76(4) 46 62. Photo credit tennisclix.com

Heart-sick Caroline Wozniacki (No. 13) bowed out to unseeded Yanina Wickmayer. Considering the Belgian’s loss record over the past couple years, her aggressive play and demeanor could be interpreted as a pounce on a weakened Wozniacki. Whatever the mojo, it worked. 

Wozniacki said she “just has to move on,” regarding pro-golfer Rory McIlory’s unexpected break of their engagement four days ago. Although the shock certainly threw Wozniacki into a bought of melancholy, a recent ankle injury could have exacerbated her movement and loss, too.

Late this afternoon, the sun peeked through the clouds over the French Federation’s complex. Perhaps tomorrow will bring brighter outcomes for those players who work so hard to blossom at these major tournaments. 

Whatever the weather brings, the draws have certainly opened opportunities for those that need a touch of luck to turn their fortnights into fortunes. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013