Sunday, May 23, 2010

Roland Garros Results: Tsonga Wins a Thriller, Soderling, Venus and Kuzzie Roll, Gulbis Retires

Is there anything better than waking up to a cup of coffee and day 1 of Grand Slam action? I'd say no.

Roland Garros kicked off on Sunday and tennis' top stars wasted no time bringing the drama and the domination. Robin Soderling picked up where he left off at the 'o9 French Open, putting on a perfect display of offense and defense in crushing Laurent Recouderc 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. Other quick and easy winners included 29th seeded Albert Motanes, 11th seed Mikhail Youzhny and Alejandro Falla. Marin Cilic gave a solid performance in defeating Ricardo Mello in 4 sets, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

The men's side lacked any big upsets on day 1 but the dark horses in the ladies' draw got started ousting the top women right away. Gisela Dulko kicked off the party by absolutely thwarting Victoria Azarenka, who looked like a physical and emotional wreck. With the 6-1, 6-2 win Dulko advances to the second round of the French Open for the 6th straight year. Svetlana Kuznetsova has had an unsteady year thus far and was thought of as prone to a 1st-round upset at the hands of Sorana Cirstea, but after a slow start, the 6th seed and defending champ got back on track to earn an easy win, 6-3, 6-1. Madrid champ Aravane Rezai validated the 15 beside her name with a dominating performance against Heidi El Tabakh, surrendering just 2 games. Agnes Szavay, Dominika Cibulkova and Nadia Petrova all moved on without difficulty.

The pressure Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has to deal with at the French Open is nearly insurmountable, as an entire country is banking on the 7th seed to bring home a major to his homeland, but winning before his greatest critics has been anything but easy for Jo-Willy. And the first day at RG was no different, as Tsonga was pushed to 5 sets against Daniel Brands. After dropping the first set, Tsonga looked to be sailing to victory, winning the next 2 and earning a break in the 4th, but Brands mounted a comeback to push the match a 5th where Tsonga's serve pulled him through 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 7-5. Ernests Gulbis also had high expectations, but went the opposite rout of Tsonga, abruptly retiring against Julien Benneteau down 6-4, 6-2, 1-0. 32nd seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeated Rainer Schuettler 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

Venus Williams dressed to impress this year at the French, and impress she did, easily beating Patty Schnyder on Sunday to reach round 2. Flavia Pennetta made quick work of Anna Keothavong, while Maria Kirilenko edged out Karolina Sprem in 2 tough sets. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez was a popular pick to make a lot of noise at the year's 2nd slam after her win in Rome, but the Spaniard proved her impressive clay-court Spring was an aberration, as she crashed out against Akgul Amanmuradova 6-2, 6-4.

Oh, and I didn't want to mention this, but my semifinal pick in the 3rd quarter, Elena Vesnina, lost. I sincerely hope that none of you took my advice in your brackets

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