Roland Garros: Five things we learned on Day 2
The top two men are in the mood while Serena finds her mojo in the logo.
Quick time alphas
It’s all about alpha better. Third seed Roger Federer took 100 minutes to take out Lorenzo Sonego on Day 1. So the top seed Novak Djokovic made his statement against the fast-rising Pole Hubert Hurkacz on Day 2. Djokovic needed 96 minutes to eliminate the 22-year-old and move into round two. The uberalpha of the troika, Rafael Nadal, is seeking a 12th title at the French Open. He laboured for 117 mintues for his 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory. Really, Rafa.
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are one of the best doubles partnerships on the circuit. The Frenchmen have won titles at all the four Grand Slam tournament venues in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York. However, the duo are not renowned for their prowess as singles players. But for the second day running, each of them have pulled off a remarkable feat. On Day 1, Mahut recovered from two sets down to beat the 16th seed Marco Cecchinato. On Day 2, Herbert eclipsed his partner. He fought back from the same deficit to oust the 12th seed Daniil Medvedev. How the partisans cheered.
Chant No 1
No, we’re not going to talk about Spandau Ballet’s hit from yesteryear. There was an enthralling match on Court Simonne Mathieu on Day 2 between the Australian Samantha Stosur and Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic. Stosur, 35, won the US Open in 2011 just over a year after reaching the final at the French Open. She has twice been a semi-finalist In Paris so she knows her way around the clay court. Strycova’s best showing at a Grand Slam was a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon in 2014. But the two thirtysomethings put on a great show of cheeky angles, neat slices and some occasional fierce hitting. We at the daily review also liked their supporters. When the Czech needed a boost, her band of backers shouted what sounded like: “Bora! Bora!”. Sam’s fans yelled: “Go Sam”. Which is suitably direct. Ultimately, Strycova let slip the chance to take the match into a third set. From 3-1 up in the second set tiebreak, she lost six consecutive points allowing Stosur to claim the shoot-out 7-3 and the match, 6-2, 7-6.
No, we’re not going to talk about Madonna’s hit from yesteryear even though we think it is, like Chant No 1, a wonderful tune. Instead we sing of Serena Williams and her latest fashion offering to the world of top tennis. The Nike x Off-White ... a two-piece number which didn’t seem to be aiding her quest for Grand Slam title 24. She was abject in the first set of her first round match against Vitalia Diatchenko. The unseeded Russian won it 6-2 to inject a frisson on centre court. “I made so many errors in the first set,” Williams said of her lax opening. “Instead of correcting them, they just kept getting worse. It was just strange.” Well, business-like manners returned to the 37-year-old. She won 12 of the next 13 games to progress to a second showing of her collaboration with Off-White creative director Virgil Abloh. “I was nervous in the first set,” admitted Williams. “I wasn’t moving my feet. I am always nervous in the first round.” She did not elucidate and was rather vague.
The two-piece was initially hidden beneath a cape. It's all part of a super heroine look dreamed up by the dynamic duo who also like their motivators. The words: “Mother", "Champion", "Queen", "Goddess” are printed on the garment in French. “They’re things that mean a lot to me,” said Williams. And, presumably the Nike coffers.