Tennis legend Serena Williams is truly the keeper of “firsts.” On Day 2 of the 2021 French Open, Williams gained yet another, playing the first official night match at the French Open. Serena moved one step closer to claiming the elusive 24th Slam title, defeating Irina-Camelia Begu.
One day after receiving a $15,000 fine and a potential for harsher sanctions, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open. Controversy surrounding the 23-year-old’s decision to forego post-match press divided tennis fans and journalists alike. Citing mental health concern and stating today that she has suffered from depression since 2018, Osaka told fans she’ll see them when she sees them. No word on when the Japanese superstar will return to the courts.
French Open Day 2 Recap
Twelfth Seed Muguruza Falls to Kostyuk
In a dominant display of power and athleticism, Marta Kostyuk routed former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza. The Ukrainian teen returned some of the most impossible shots, much to Muguruza’s dismay. An apparent back injury sidelined the strong Muguruza serve, leaving the 18-year-old able to control points from the start. Certainly, the Spaniard used her powerful backhand to drive winners down the line. Yet, those were few and far between. An elated Kostyuk moves on to the second round.
Jessica Pegula, seeded #28, Battles Past Zhu Lin
The 28th seeded Pegula was made to work for her win. It was really the Pegula serve which opened the door for the Chinese. Putting only 55% of her first deliveries in play left the American struggling to take control of the point. Pegula served four aces and yielded seven double faults. Cleaning up her errant serve will be critical for Pegula.
#10 Seed Belinda Bencic Turned in a Near Flawless Performance
A near flawless first set saw tenth seed Belinda Bencic garner a 6-0 win. A few errors in the second set were of no concern for the Swiss. She claimed the second set 6-3. Quite impressive, considering her opponent Nadia Podoroska has been in good form, playing exceptionally well on clay. Perhaps it was Bencic’s ability to take the ball early which left Podoroska stymied. A clean performance sends the Swiss on to the second round where she’ll face Daria Kasatkina.
Fourth Seed Sofia Kenin Survives Ostapenko Challenge
Sofia Kenin narrowly escaped another opening match exit on clay. Struggling with form and recently finding none, the World #5 was finally able to chalk up a win. Always a feisty competitor, Kenin was able to battle past former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. As much as you want to applaud Kenin’s effort, Ostapenko helped her with this one, producing 46 unforced errors to 32 winners. In the decider, the Latvian’s timing and tempo evaporated. Gone was the second set stalwart who produced winners from the most challenging places. The third set was all about the Ostapenko who goes for two much too soon–and handed Kenin her first clay win of the season. Kenin will now meet fellow American Hailey Baptiste.
#19 Seed Johanna Konta Crashes Out of the French Open
Johanna Konta is now 1-4 on clay this season. In fact, the British player continues to struggle with form, bringing her 2021 record to 3-7. Sorana Cirstea played with confidence and powered through the court, leaving Konta with more questions than answers. Compatriot Heather Watson also lost in today’s action, leaving no female Britons in the second round. That leaves Cameron Norrie to represent.
An Easy Day on the Red Clay
The fourteenth seed Elise Mertens quickly dismissed qualifier Storm Sanders. While Sanders has been making strides and winning matches, Mertens is a savvy player with deep shots and a high tennis IQ. This is a draw which should allow the Belgian a deep run.
Defending champion and eighth seed Iga Swiatek cruised through her opening round. Not only did the birthday girl get a win, she got the chance to hit with her idol, Rafael Nadal. She found their outing “inspiring.” The 20-year-old will next play Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.
Three Set Clashes End in Defeat
Struggling with injuries has left the sixth seeded Bianca Andreescu with limited playing time. Perhaps that part of the equation which saw the sixth seeded Andreescu come out on the losing end of a 3 hour 34 minute battle with Zidansek. In this roller coaster round where momentum shifted continuously, Zidansek won her first main draw match at Roland Garros.
Sixteenth seed Kiki Bertens was dismissed by Polona Hercog. Winning just 46% behind her first serve allowed the Slovenian to play an aggressive return game.
Camila Giorgi surprised Petra Martic, the #22 seed, in a three set clash. After a run to the semis in Rome and the quarterfinals in Parma, Martic seemed to be finding her footing on clay. Giorgi, who plays with inconsistency, found her hot streak and upset Martic 6-2 6-7 6-4.
Main Photo from Getty.