Roland Garros

Roland Garros: 5 things we learned on Day 2 - the sun shines again

Former champion Roger Federer moved into the second round after a straight sets win over Denis Istomin.
Former champion Roger Federer moved into the second round after a straight sets win over Denis Istomin. © Pierre Rene-Worms/RFI

Blues skies again and the sun was out. Yes, Roger Federer was back on centre court to the unbridled joy of the lucky few.

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With friends like these …

Marion Baroli has many skills but singing isn’t one of them. Nevertheless the former Wimbledon champion gamely led the centre court crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday for defending champion Iga Swiatek who was 20 on day two. “I’ve been practising to do this for four days,” admitted Bartoli. Really? wondered the review. Still, Swiatek appreciated the gesture after dispatching, Kaja Juvan, one of her best friends on the tour 6-0, 7-5. The first set whirled by in 23 minutes but Juvan showed mettle in the second and had two points to take it into a shoot-out before Swiatek clinched the tie on her fourth match point. “Kaja didn’t give me any birthday gifts out there,” Swiatek said drily after the encounter. Clearly time to find some new chums, Iga.

Sinner turns saint

Jannik Sinner is tipped for big, big things. The Italian 19-year-old is the 18th seed this year and expected to emulate his run to last year’s quarter-final. After racing through the first set 6-1 against the local hero Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Sinner found himself match point down in the fourth set. To the chagrin of the partisans on Court Suzanne Lenglen, he saved it and managed to level at 5-5. He went on to take the set 7-5 and wrapped up the decider 6-4. "Obviously when I saw the draw and his name, I knew already it was going to be tough,” said Sinner in his on-court interview. “Of course, knowing the crowd was going to be for him … but it's good to have crowd as well so thanks for coming out today.” My, how they cheered.

Medvedev gets his win

Daniil Medvedev came into Roland Garros as a man who had never won a match in four visits to the tournament. The 25-year-old Russian says he’s got a problem with the clay. But he seemed to be at one with the surface as he sped into a two set lead over the talented but erratic Alexander Bublik. In the third set, at 5-3 up and 30-30, Bublik hit a 222kmh first serve that flew out. His second serve? 219kmh. And out. That was his sixth double fault. A seventh double fault seconds later handed Medvedev the game to make it 5-4. Reprieved, Medvedev powered through the next three games to wrap up the match 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 54 minutes. His first win in his fifth visit. And he says he feels good. And he said it in French. Which makes the crowd feel good.

Roger that feel-good factor

On the subject of making the crowd feel good …nobody does it better than Mr Roger Federer. They whooped for the former world number one as he sauntered out for his match against Denis Istomin. And why not? Federer's not been bad over the years. Istomin, who emerged from the qualifiers, received polite applause whenever he won a point. There weren’t that many of them for him in Federer’s 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win. It was a real treat in the early evening sunshine to see the 39-year-old’s silky skills. He ballet-danced around and unleashed some sweet forehands. As for his post-match stuff with Fabrice Santoro? He could have gabbed on for hours. Fluent, smooth and charming. When he goes away, that's going to be a tough day.

Night fever

The whizz brains at the French tennis federation might need to rethink. After Roger Federer's match against Denis Istomin ended amid the brouhaha of adoring spectators. centre court remained unused for a good couple of hours until the night match featuring the former champion Serena Williams and Irina-Camelia Begu. This had to be played behind closed doors because of the French government's coronavirus curfew restrictions. Blue-skies thinking?

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