The second Grand Slam of the year is deprived of two major champions and last years quarter-finalists: Andy Murray (back problems) and Juan Martin del Potro (virus). The lack of Murray is exceptionally interesting for the progress of the tournament because the Scot reached at least quarterfinal in his last nine major appearances (eight times semifinal or better). The last year finalists, Ragfael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in the same section of the draw which means that if Roger Federer doesn’t advance to the final, at least one finalist will be considered as unexpected.
15 matches on Day 1 (Sunday), 29 on the following day. Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils looked like the most intriguing first round match-up on paper, and indeed it was a very interesting match between a very solid current Top 10’er and a player who was in the Top 10 two years ago, but recently returns to the Top 100. The Frenchman needed five set points to take the opening set. A break in the 3rd game of the 2nd set gave him a two-sets-to-love lead, but Berdych comes back from the brink more often than anyone else in 2013. The Czech survived another two sets in tie-breaks being two points away from loss in set No. 4. Losing two tie-break sets and winning a match is extremely tough task #, but this match depended on serve above all, Monfils was broken just once in four sets and it gave him a solid base to believe in victory despite unfortunate circumstances. The crucial game of the match came in the 6th game of the final set when Monfils fought off a triple break point. He broke in the 11th game and served the match convincingly at ’15’. “It’s a unique moment because I have not won such matches for a long time, and I have not performed, if I can say, mentally, physically,” said Monfils. “It’s one of the best ones I have played here. I believed I would win during the whole match. I have gone through very difficult moments, so you get tougher.” There were other dramatic five-setters: Gilles Simon in front of his mother almost suffered the worst defeat of his career – he blew a 5:0* lead in the 5th set against a 5-set specialist Lleyton Hewitt, but took easily two games from 5-all (winning eight points in a row) to win 3-6 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-5. Simon next meets Pablo Cuevas , who didn’t play two years because of right knee injury. The 27-year-old Uruguayan saved two match points on return in the 5th set against Adrian Mannarino. Juan Monaco had a mini-match point in the 3rd set against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, and led *4:1 in a tie-break shortly afterwards, only to lose for the fourth time in career despite a 2-0 advantage in sets (third time against a Spaniard), 6-4 6-4 6-7(4) 4-6 4-6. From 3-all in the 3rd set, Paulo Lorenzi won 11 consecutive games against Tobias Kamke, but when the German snapped the streak at *0:2 in the 5th set, he was in command to the end of his 6-3 6-3 3-6 0-6 6-3 victory. Other German, Daniel Brands after winning the 1st set, jumped to a 3:0 in a tie-break of the 2nd set against 7-time champion Rafael Nadal. Brands  was in trance at the moment, and attacked Nadal’s second serve with his powerful forehand; if the ball was good he would probably take stunningly 2nd set, however, he missed just 10-15 cm, and Nadal took the control of the match winning the tie-break 7/4 and breaking Brands three times after that (he couldn’t do it in first two sets even once)t: 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-3. “He was playing unbelievable,” said Nadal. “I just tried to find my game and tried to resist his fantastic shots. He played a fantastic match and put me in a very difficult situation. I’m very happy to be through.” 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios  received a wild card to his first main-level tournament and notched a valuable win overcoming veteran Radek Stepanek in three tie-breaks ##. In the 2nd tie-break Kyrgios saved six set points (!): 1:6 & 7:8, in the third one three more (6:7, 8:9, 10:11). “My goal today was just to go out there and enjoy every moment and give my best effort from the first point to the last. If I won today it was a bonus,” said Kyrgios. Robin Haase has ended his infamous streak of 17 tie-breaks lost in a row. The Dutchman, who couldn’t win a tie-break at the main-level since February 1, 2012, ousted a tall Frenchman, Kenny de Schepper 6-4 7-6(3) 2-6 6-3. It doesn’t happen often that two players face each other twice within one week: Michal Przysiezny defeated Rhyne Williams in his last qualifying match, Williams got into the main draw as a “lucky loser” and lost to the Pole again, this time taking a set off him. Przysiezny is one of three Poles participating in this year’s French Open; as many Poles as during the French Open ’13 were just once in a major, also in Paris (1970) – Wieslaw Gasiorek, Mieczyslaw Rybarczyk & Tadeusz Nowicki.
# French Open matches in which the winner lost sets No. 3 & 4 in tie-breaks:
1977: Rolf Norberg d. Pavel Slozil 6-2, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5 1977: Brian Fairlie d. Yannick Noah 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2 1986: Yannick Noah d. Tarik Benhabiles 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(8), 6-4 1990: Paul Haarhuis d. Jim Pugh 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-7(6), 7-5 1992: Chris Pridham d. Stephane Simian 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 6-3 1994: Henrik Holm d. Stefan Edberg 7-5, 7-6(1), 6-7(2), 6-7(8), 6-4 2013: Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5
## All-tie-break 3-setters at the French Open:
1998: Marzio Martelli d. Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(3), 7-6(6), 7-6(2) 2006: Ivo Karlovic d. Olivier Patience 7-6(6), 7-6(1), 7-6(10) 2008: Albert Montanes d. Kristof Vliegen 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3) 2008: Wayne Odesnik d. Guillermo Canas 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 7-6(8) 2009: Victor Hanescu d. Steve Darcis 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 7-6(3) 2013: Nick Kyrgios d. Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(11)
Longest match: 4 hours, 3 minutes. Gael Monfils d. Tomas Berdych 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5 Most aces: 26 – Monfils, defeated Berdych
5-set barometer: 31-19 Lleyton Hewitt, 17-8 Feliciano Lopez, 17-9 Jarkko Nieminen, 16-8 Tomas Berdych, 14-11 Andreas Seppi, 11-5 Gael Monfils, 11-6 Gilles Simon, 9-11 Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-2 Albert Montanes, 6-3 Marcel Granollers, 4-9 Juan Monaco, 3-2 Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 3-3 Pablo Cuevas, 2-1 Adrian Mannarino, 2-2 Tobias Kamke, 0-3 Leonardo Mayer, Steve Johnson & Paolo Lorenzi