IT was a forgettable day for the French fans in Paris, as all six French representatives were bundled out of the 2021 Roland Garros ATP draw in the first round on day two. In a day that was largely favourable to seeds – with eight of the 10 seeds in action grabbing wins – there were still some thrilling contests, none more so than Italian young gun Jannik Sinner‘s five-set win over France’s Pierre Hugues-Herbert.
Sinner fell two sets to one down after winning the first one easily, before bouncing back to win in five sets, 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 to advance through to the Round of 64. The match lasted three hours and 32 minutes, as both players showed their talents at the net, with 24 per cent of the total points won there. Sinner won 61 per cent of his approach shots, whilst Herbert won 58 per cent, in a real epic battle. The Italian hit 15 less winners than his opponent (43-58), but had a whopping 26 less unforced errors (36-62) in a more conservative, but consistent performance. Herbert’s ability to control his serve (13 aces to five) was what kept him in it, but in the end, it was the mistakes that cost him and set Sinner into the next round.
Perhaps the biggest choke of the day went to American Frances Tiafoe, who was two sets to love up and in control against compatriot Steve Johnson. The more experienced kept toiling away though, and won the next three sets easily, dominating the fourth and fifth sets to win in three hours and 11 minutes, 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1. Johnson hit 49 winners to 46 and 41 unforced errors to 47, marginally ahead in each statistical category, though breaking nine times to five was the difference in the latter stages of the match. Also needing five sets to win was American Tommy Paul, who survived an almighty fightback from Australian wildcard Christopher O’Connell to win 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8 in three hours and 33 minutes. Paul hit six more winners (47-41) and had 10 less unforced errors (40-50), whilst winning an impressive 76 per cent of both his first serve points, and net points won to hold off the determined Australian and book himself a Round of 64 spot.
In terms of upsets, just two seeds fell on day two of the competition, with 13th seed David Goffin and 26th seed Lorenzo Sonego both exiting the Grand Slam. Sonego’s compatriot, Italian Lorenzo Musetti continued his great rise over the past 12 months to obliterate Goffin in the first set, before holding out in two more tight sets to win 6-0 7-5 7-6. The match lasted two hours and 18 minutes, with the sloppy Goffin hitting a whopping 48 unforced errors to Musetti’s 27, and while Goffin was more clinical at the net (79 to 64 per cent success), and hit more winners (37-23), Musetti posted a 71 per cent serving efficiency and first serve winning rate. Big serving South African Lloyd Harris might not have had his usual numbers off the aces (6-5), but still did enough to take care of Sonego in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 6-4 in an identical time to the other upset, two hours and 18 minutes. Harris did hit 40 winners to 31, and he won 75 and 69 per cent off his first and second serve respectively – losing just 24 points – to Sonego’s 66 and 58 per cent, to advance through to the next stage.
The other eight seeds in action all advanced, with eighth seed Roger Federer making his return to the Grand Slam circuit, posting a straight sets win over Uzbekistan qualifier Denis Istomin. The 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory in one hour and 33 minutes was the quickest of the ATP Tour matches, giving the Swiss Maestro an eye-catching start to the clay tournament. Federer was absolutely exquisite as he hit 48 winners to 18, and won 79 per cent of his points at the net compared to Istomin’s 43 per cent. He produced eight aces and only dropped 13 points on serve for the entire match, breaking five times from 13 chances and never conceding a break point opportunity in a clinical victory. Fellow top 10 seed Daniil Medvedev also advanced in straight sets, putting away a tough first round opponent in Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3 7-5. Fellow seeds, Casper Ruud and Nikoloz Basilashvili needed four sets to overcome their opponents Benoit Paire and Dusan Lajovic, whilst American trio seeded 30th, 31st and 32nd in Taylor Fritz, John Isner and Reilly Opelka, all advanced through to the Round of 64 with straight sets wins.
Unfortunately for France, it was not a great day, with Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bundled out in four sets against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese talent won 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6 to advance through to the Round of 64 in two hours and 52 minutes, winning the fourth set tiebreaker 7-5 in a match which almost went to five sets. Tsonga was far from disgraced upon his return, producing 19 aces to two, and hitting 61 winners to 21, but his power was still finding its consistency, whacking 73 unforced errors to 21 which proved costly. The longest match of the day was Jaume Munar‘s four-set come-from-behind victory over Jordan Thompson in four hours and 23 minutes. The Spaniard dropped the first set tiebreaker to the Australian 8-6, before a quicker second set followed, and then the clay court talent won 7-5 in the third set tiebreaker, and with an additional break secured in the win in an epic contest, 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4. Thompson hit 55 winners to Munar’s 35, but the Spaniard had 28 less unforced errors (50-78), and was more efficient with his serve (75 to 54 per cent), also breaking five times from 23 chances to Thompson’s two from 10.
Fellow Spaniards Pedro Martinez – who defeated most recent title winner Sebastian Korda in straight sets – and Carlo Alcaraz also advanced through to the second round, with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic and Italy’s Gianluca Mager all sending wildcards, qualifiers or lucky losers home in the first round. Other winners were Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis who both made their way into the second round at Roland Garros.
ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-3 7-5
 Roger Federer (SUI) defeated [Q] Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated  David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 7-5 7-6
 Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6
 Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Pierre Hugues-Herbert (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated  Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
 Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-2
 Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-2 6-4
 John Isner (USA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6 6-3 6-4
 Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 6-2 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [WC] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 7-6 6-1 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-5 7-5 6-2
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Mathias Bourgue (FRA) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1
[PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-2
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-4 6-1 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [LL] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-2 3-6 6-4 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-1 2-6 6-0 6-1
Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT