Photo: Paul ZimmerAndy Roddick (USA)
DAY 1: The second Grand Slam of the year began on Sunday with No. 26 seed Andy Roddick becoming the highest profile day one casualty after crashing out in four sets at the hands of Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.
Roland Garros has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for the American, a former US Open champion, and so it proved once again as he suffered a first round exit on the Parisian clay for the fifth time in his career.
Roddick is more at home on hard or grass courts and struggles to adapt to the different style of movement required to be successful on clay, a point he made clear after his defeat to Mahut, who is no clay court specialist himself.
“I move just horrendously out here,” said Roddick. “My first step is just so bad on this stuff. I feel like I’m always shuffling or hopping or not stopping or something. So my footwork on this stuff now is just really bad.”
Mahut, who is best remembered for his marathon clash with John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010, capitalised on Roddick’s poor form to record a 63 63 46 62 victory on Court Suzanne Lenglen, which was only his second main draw win at Roland Garros in 11 matches.
Roddick was out of sorts in the opening two sets, but he did threaten a comeback by winning the third and going a break up in the fourth. However, Mahut composed himself and resumed control to set up a second round meeting with either Frank Dancevic or Martin Klizan.
The only other seed to topple on Sunday was Jurgen Melzer, who surrendered a two-set lead against Michael Berrer as he went down 67(5) 46 62 62 63. Berrer’s reward is a second round clash with qualifier Nicolas Devilder.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro - both outsiders for this year’s title - had no such trouble as they opened their accounts with four-set wins. Tsonga overcame a slow start to defeat Andrey Kuznetsov 16 63 62 64 and del Potro outlasted veteran Albert Montanes 62 67(5) 62 61.
Marin Cilic, Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is making his 12th appearance at the tournament he won in 2003, were also on target with straight-set victories, while Stanislas Wawrinka needed five sets to beat Flavio Cipolla 63 63 46 36 62.
Venus Williams avoided a first round shock in the women’s event after battling back from a set down to defeat Paula Ormaechea 46 61 63. The American now faces either No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Bojana Jovanovski.
“She played super well the first set,” said Williams. “I think she really did a lot of the right things, and I have to congratulate her on the first set, and thankfully the next two sets were better for me.”
Samantha Stosur opened her account with a comprehensive 64 60 win over Elena Baltacha. The Aussie, who claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open, is a former Roland Garros finalist and goes into the tournament as one of the favourites.
Two former Roland Garros winners, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic, started with routine victories against Mirjana Lucic 61 63 and Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino 61 61 respectively, while Angelique Kerber, Lucie Safarova and Sara Errani also booked their place in the second round.
Follow all action from Paris on the official tournament website: RolandGarros.com