Stakhovsky v. Navarro :
Sergiy was much in control in the first set. He played his usual aggressive game, going very often to the net and being able to finish off the points very quickly.
Navarro started playing better in the early stages of the second set, managing to kill Sergiy’s aggressive game by starting to moonball and slice everything to avoid the Ukrainian’s power.
In the final set, the Spaniard was playing his typical slow game and Stakhovsky was no longer able to attack as well as in the first set. Sergiy’s backhand was off today, and he seemed quite unhappy about his serve too. He looked very frustrated after the match, while Navarro was noisingly celebrating VAMOOOS after each point, and with his entourage at the end of the match.
Dolgopolov Jr. v. Ventura :
Oleksandr was by far one of the most impressive player of the day. His abilities in returns of serves are tremendous, and that was one of the keys of the match today, as, as far as I remember, he broke Ventura’s serve each time in the last game of each set. He stands way inside the baseline on the Spaniard’s second serve, and very often follow his returns to the net. From the baseline, you would say he has a typical game composed of solid groundstrokes, but he builds the points most of the time down the line and ALWAYS follows his attacks at the net. That’s smartly done from the young Ukrainian, who seemed much more experienced than his record and age say.
Guez v. Zverev :
David Guez is a guy from my town – Marseille – and he has always been firy on a court. And that obviousely did not change. Smashing rackets, biting himself, insulting the linesmen – in French, not very smart thing to do on his home soil – and insulting his entourage seem to be part of his usual behavious on a court. Zverev had nothing special to do but waiting for the Frenchman to self destruct. He has good shots but nothing making him special anyhow.
Nieminen v. Bubka :
That was the match of the day for me, as it featured two of my faves. Jarkko, having changed his serve motion quite much, was in control of most of the rallies. Bubka did shine by his ablities to hit some winners from anywhere on the court. He still made way too much unforced errors to hope worrying the Finnish who should be able to qualify for the MD.
As he did in Marseille, Bubka stayed a long while sitting on his chair after the handshake, noisingly crying in his towel.
Roger Vasselin v. Kunitsyn :
Edouard destroyed himself as he was in a totally off day. Moody and unable to hit any winners, missing everything – even some overheads – he gave an incredible amount of free points to his transparent opponent, who was pretending to be upset by his own game when he was doing nothing but moonballing Edouard to death. He should be an easy prey for his opponent tomorrow.
De Bakker v. Martin :
I was secretely hating De Bakker for being in the top 100 with such a poor record on the ATP tour draws. But I have to admit that I was wrong as far as his tennis level is concerned. He was totally dominating the experienced Spaniard. His serve and his forehand are just tremendously powerful and precise! He looked quite fit and quick and could make some damages, especially on quicker surfaces.
Martin on the other hand, looked like he was about to cry all match long…looking down, looking at his bottle of water without actually drinking it during the changeovers…that was pretty sad. He even refused to shake the umpire’s hand at the end of the match after having barely touched De Bakker’s fingers during the “handshake” after having put his rackets in his bag way before the end of the match.
Marchenko v. Balleret :
That’s what you would call a match offered to the opponent. Against an annoying another clay moonballer yelling ALLEZ after each point, Illya must have hit 30+ unforced errors, receiving a point penalty when splitting his racket into three pieces on a fence. He, moreover, did look quite umconfortable on clay, barely trying to slide and refusing to run at the Balleret’s “dropshots” – which landed more in the middle of the court than behind the net.
Sad way to lose for Illya, and definitely not the right attitude.
Clement v. Smirnov :
Well, Arnaud can thank the young Ukrainian for getting through this first match. The Frenchman’s serve was erratic all match long, and he looked injured, taking a medical time out in the closing stages of the match, even if leading.
Smirnov was not at all on the top of my list of Ukrainian’s potential future top 100, but he now definitely is. He has a hell of a serve, and has very good hands at the net. His lack of experience costed him the second set, and he gave up in the final set. He, like his countryman Bubka, spent a few minutes in tears at the end of the match.
Gil v. Golubev :
Well, Andrey is not of a kind to smile and celebrate on the court. I’ve watched the whole final set of this match, and he did not smile, pump his fist, nor looked like he felt any emotion. His game is 100% based on his serve, as he always attacks the returns of serves, missing most of them but hitting some firing ones too. He got close to a loss, but managed to drive the Portuguese crazy in the end of the match. During the final set tie break, Gil received a warning after having hit a ball out of the court…a ball which landed right on the head of an old woman, which provokated a general laughter, including Gil’s. The Kazakh’s dropshots and efficiency at the net mentally and physically destroyed Gil’s chance to win this very tight match.
Also to note :
- I came across in the venue : Gulbis, Bagdhatis, Chiudinelli, Bhupathi, Marc & Feliciano Lopez, Ferrer, Tsonga, Simon (even if not playing) and a few others.
- Practise sessions : Bolelli + Seppi + Fognini, Andreev/Korolev, Murray/Bagdhatis, Tsonga/coach, Benneteau/Robert, and of course the crazy race around Nadal who was with an unknown hitting partner.
That’s it for today, see you tomorrow for the day 2, for the qualifying matches and some first round matches.