ATP NextGen Finals 2019 champion Jannik Sinner did more than love up to that mouthful of a title. Not only did the Italian teenager help christen the new Philippe Chatrier roof on a murky, rainy day in autumnal Paris, but he delivered a bit of a lesson to the 11th seed David Goffin, beating him in straight sets.
Sinner, making his Roland Garros debut, started strongly and although Goffin rallied briefly in the first set to come from 1-3 down in a flurry of breaks between the pair, after the Italian edged Goffin, it very quickly became one-way traffic for Sinner.
After the match Sinner said: “The first set was very tight – a lot of breaks, breaks of serve, and it was like the key to manage to win quite easily the service game. In the beginning, that was not easy. He was returning well. I was not serving that well. But the balls here are very heavy. The court was heavy. It was not easy.
“At the end, when you win the first set and go up a break, so it’s a little bit easier to play. I mean, he’s top-15 player, top-10 player, so you always have to be focused. I tried to do that, and today it worked.”
Top seed on the women’s side, Simona Halep overcame a slow start, having to come from 2-4 down against Sara Sorribes Tormo before reeling off 10 games on the spin to ease her way into the second round, on her birthday no less.
“It was really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday. So it’s going to be pretty unique maybe forever. I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottle of water (smiling). Just enjoying the time. I will speak with my very close ones and loved ones. Just that. Nothing special.
“At the beginning I just wanted to be aggressive and to hit the balls everywhere. But she was so strong on the legs, and she didn’t miss at all. And also, her ball is coming a little bit higher and with a lot of topspin, so it’s not easy to play from, you know, up to the shoulder.
“And then I just started to open the court better, to go slower, and to work for every ball, which I did very well. And dropshots (smiling).”
One thing is for sure – Paris in autumn brings about a fair few challenges. Heavy gusts of wind, persistent rain – and within 30 minutes of play starting, Victoria Azarenka decided it was not going to be ok to be sat waiting for a rain band to clear.
Telling the tournament supervisor that to sit outside in the rain made no sense, she asked Danka Kovinic if she wanted to remain on court (to which Kovinic replied with a firm ‘no’) and they left to wait inside for the rain band to clear.
On their resumption, Azarenka looked to be in the same kind of form she had shown in the US Swing, also easing through in straight sets.
“I think it’s very tricky at the moment to have these conditions. So definitely not going to sit here and complain, but sometimes I think there are smarter ways to handle situations.
“We talked with the supervisor. She was very kind to let us know that there was another heavier cloud to go by, once that passes we’re going to go on the court, so we were ready to play whenever they called us.
“Does it increase the risk of players getting injured? Absolutely, I think that it does. But what’s going to happen, I don’t know. I don’t really want to think about it. Right now I try to focus on what can do I on the court, not rather what is not good, you know, what sucks or like what is bothering everybody. That’s not what I’m trying to think about because I’m here to do my job to the best capacity possible.
“I think after the tournament there should be some real good feedback and explanations and conversations with players, that’s for a fact.”
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