The first day of every grand slam has a special excitement about it. The anticipation for the tournament has been brewing for weeks. There were 16 men’s matches on Sunday, and they did not disappoint.
Federer Tames Busta- Some were calling for Pablo Carreno-Busta to push Federer, including the great Brad Gilbert. However, the stage was too much for Busta, who looked nervous early, and was never able to recover. Although the scoreline was 6-2 6-2 6-3, it wasn’t even that close. This match was the definition of a cake walk for the Swiss man. He broke Busta to open each set, setting the tone for the match. Federer looked sharp for the majority of the match, but he had some understandable lapses in concentration when he was up big. For Busta, this shows that there is a huge difference between having success at the futures level, and at the Grand Slam level. Roger’s serve looked good, and he will face another qualifier, Somdev Devvarman, in the second round. Devvarman took out Daniel Munoz De La Nava in straight sets.
Ferrer Rolls- David Ferrer was not given the easiest first round opponent, Marinko Matosevic. The Australian is different type of player, and has the potential to be dangerous. But Ferrer took care of business, rolling in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 6-4. Ferrer was broken 5 times by Matosevic, but each time he responded with a break of his own. They call him the pitbull for a reason, because Ferrer is always gnawing his way back into points, sets, and matches. He will face the winner of Steve Johnson and Albert Montanes.
Match of the Day- Lleyton Hewitt vs Gilles Simon. Even before this one started you could feel a long match coming. Simon Sez is one of the premier counterpunchers on the tour, and Rusty Hewitt is a former world number who made his money by grinding and fighting in every match. For the first two sets, it was all Hewitt. Although his best shot is his backhand, he was dictating points using his forehand. He was coming to net and dominating the listless Simon, taking the first two sets 6-3 6-1. Early in the third set Simon and the French Crowd woke up, which propelled Simon to a tight 6-4 victory. The fourth set went quickly, with Hewitt’s movement looking subpar. Simon took the 4th 6-1, and continued his success into the 5th, going up 5-0. Grinding rallies often exceeding 30 shots were wearing down Hewitt, who looked all but defeated. However, you can never count Hewitt out, because one the things he enjoys most about tennis is the fight. After holding serve, Hewitt saved 2 match points and broke Simon. Things still seemed to be in hand for Simon, but after Hewitt held a tough service game, all the pressure was on the Frenchman. Hewitt came up with some brilliant shots to break Simon, and eventually leveled the 5th at 5 all. In the end, Simon kept cool when all the momentum was with Hewitt, by taking it 7-5. A great match, and a great fight from Rusty.
Shot of the Day- No doubt on this one. James Blake was having a tough time against Victor Troicki, and he was down two sets and a break when he pulled off the hot dog. After chasing down a Troicki drop shot, Blake went with the short angle chip, which Troicki then volley back deep. On the full run, Blake pulled off one of the toughest Tweeners I’ve ever seen. The ball was barely bounced, but Blake hit a lob tweener which Troicki was barely able to get a racket on. It was a flash of brilliance from the American, who went down 6-4 6-2 6-2 to the Serbian #3.
Coming Up Next- A day 2 preview from Chris Hayes, and then our day 2 picks. (I lead 11-10 after Day 1)