Milos Raonic’s 6-1, 7-6(0), 6-1 victory over Adrian Mannarino went off almost without a hitch as he conclusively dominated the No. 58-ranked Frenchman in one hour and 37 minutes.
There was really only one tetchy moment when Mannarino might have had a chance to alter his fortunes. With Raonic serving at 5-6 in the second set, Mannarino got to love-30 and was into the rally on the following point. But Raonic hit deep and the Frenchman was unable to control his backhand reply, sending it long. Two aces and a service winner later the set was level at 6-all – tiebreak time.
It would have been hard to imagine then but Mannarino had won his last point of the set as Raonic rolled to a 7-0 tiebreak wipe-out after getting a mini-break on the very first point with forehand, wrong-footing, down-the-line winner.
Mannarino, who seemed to toss the last point of the first set by blasting a forehand service return into the crowd on double-set point, was a non-factor in the 23-minute third set. He barely managed to save face (and a bagel) by winning a game trailing 5-0. Those cheering for “Adi” or “Manna” (the French love to shorten names and other expressions) were not to get much of a reward.
Raonic really didn’t have any lapses during the match, hitting his backhand notably well and using his giant strides and effective sliding to do an excellent job of covering the court.
“He’s returning serve much better than he was, hitting them deep and putting me under a lot of pressure,” Mannarino said about Raonic.
Evidence of that is that Raonic won 64 per cent of Mannarino’s second serve points.
Raonic was also 15 of 24 points won at the net – a stat that may not seem that impressive but it’s one that will win a player a lot of matches.
“Overall I think I did a good job,” was Raonic’s brief assessment of his performance. “I kept putting pressure on him and I was able to play on my terms pretty much most of the match.”
Raonic missed last year’s French Open after having foot surgery on May 11, so he was playing in the 14,911-seat main Court Philippe Chatrier for the first time since the third round in 2014 against Gilles Simon (a win) and the quarter-finals that same year against Novak Djokovoic (a loss).
“It’s a little bit different,” Raonic said about spacious Chatrier. “Takes a little bit of getting used to, especially because the court is big. You have to definitely keep your mind on not getting caught too far back.
“But it’s fun to be back there. I played two matches there two years ago and I was fortunate enough to get to play there early on in this tournament.”
That phrase “early on in this tournament” would seem to imply that he has plans to play longer and return – a positive sign.
But it certainly won’t be for his next match against lucky loser Andrej Martin, a 26-year-old Slovak ranked No. 133.
The two met in a very significant match for Raonic – at the 2011 Australian Open when Raonic made his breakthrough by reaching the round of 16. But first he had to qualify and he struggled mightily in the final round of qualifying– rallying from a set and a break down to defeat none other than Andrej Martin.
If Raonic gets past Martin, he would play either Jack Sock or Albert Ramos for a spot in the quarter-finals, likely against defending champion and third seed Stan Wawrinka.
Probably because his match wasn’t too eventful, there was some casual talk at the end of his media conference about his outside interests, including about tourist things to do in Rome and Paris.
“I did the Vatican in Rome,” Raonic said. “I don’t know if I’m really for all those big crowds. I felt almost like a tour guide for my girlfriend because I was the tallest one there and she was just sticking close and following me.
“I think the thing that I actually get the most impressed with Paris is the containment of the beauty of the architecture that is here. There’s a lot of character in each building.
“I think I have a lot more exploring to do in Rome, but Paris doesn’t lack any history or culture. I think my fitness trainer was telling me today they almost tore down the Eiffel Tower after it was built because the big artists here were complaining about how ugly they thought it was.
“It was one of the key things in the first World War to intercept the radios of the Germans. I guess little things like that you tend to pick up all throughout.”
Time for Genie to take Timea?
Despite there being two security men assigned to escort her off Court 16 following her first-round match, it was a pretty chaotic scene as Genie Bouchard made her way back to the locker room.
As can be seen above, she was accommodating to fans wanting selfies and autographs, including taking a selfie with one whom she recognized. “I remember you,” Bouchard said to a tall young guy as he asked for a selfie, “you’ve come all the way here?” He replied, “yes, and I was in Madrid too.”
Matters should be a little more under control when Bouchard leaves Court Philippe Chatrier after her second-round match with Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday. It’s the largest stadium at Roland Garros, the polar opposite of the extreme end of the grounds and Court 16 where she played on Tuesday.
The only previous meeting between No. 47-ranked Bouchard and No. 9-ranked Bacsinszky (above) was in the third round of Indian Wells in March when the 26-year-old Swiss prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Here are three reasons why the result could be different on Thursday:
- Bouchard was coming off an emotional victory over longtime rival Sloane Stephens – one of her biggest wins in a long time – and was susceptible to a letdown.
- The French Open is the first time Bacsinszky has been seeded as high as No. 8 and she may be feeling the pressure of expectation. For Bouchard, everything is pretty well a bonus after her first-round win, which is one round further than she managed a year ago.
- Bacsinszky was a semifinalist a year ago at Roland Garros – losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to eventual champion Serena Williams. She’s defending 780 ranking points and if she lost to Bouchard she would fall to roughly No. 18-20. Her current No. 9 is a career high.
None of this means Bouchard will win but she’s playing well and, at their best, most people would probably say the 22-year-old Montrealer is the superior player.
Looking ahead, the draw could open up for the winner who will next play either No. 63-ranked Irina Falconi or No. 88-ranked Pauline Parmentier. Further in the round of 16 it could be either No. 11 Venus Williams or No. 50 Alizé Cornet.
Bottom line: this is a match-up of French Open semifinalists – Bouchard in 2014 and Bacsinszky last year.
Double doubles success
Both Canadians in action in doubles on Wednesday, Daniel Nestor and Gabriela Dabrowski, advanced to the second round.
Nestor and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan defeated Inigo Cervantes of Spain and Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 7-6(5), 6-2 while Dabrowski and Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez of Spain triumphed 7-6(6), 7-6(2) over Daria Gavrilova of Australia and Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
“I thought Aisam played really well considering it was our first match – we played well together which is important,” Nestor said. “We kind of fed off each other, we had good energy.
“The reason I wanted to play with him is I know he understands doubles and plays traditional doubles. For me, at this stage in my career, considering how the game’s changing – a lot of guys are playing a different game-style – I think it’s important to play with someone who understands the older strategies, traditional doubles and I think he does.
“The most important thing today was sticking to our game-plan. It didn’t always work but we stuck to it and eventually it paid off.”
Nestor also spoke about his recent change of partners. It all centred around Edouard Roger-Vasselin, with whom he won Cincinnati and was a runner-up at Rogers Cup in Montreal last summer.
He thought he had an agreement to play with the Frenchman at Roland Garros but ultimately Roger-Vasselin said he felt pressure to partner compatriot Julien Benneteau and reneged on the deal. Nestor then hoped to go back with Radek Stepanek, his partner since January including their runner-up finish at the Australian Open, but Stepanek ultimately elected to join forces with Nenad Zimonjic. The musical chairs finally ended with Nestor deciding to play with Qureshi.
In the second round, Nestor and Qureshi will face the British/Israeli pairing of Colin Fleming and Jonathan Erlich.
Dabrowski is playing with one of the more original players on the tour. Martinez Sanchez, 33, had one great result in singles – winning the Italian Open in 2010 with her lefthanded, gangly, net-rushing game.
She is also a mother and has recently returned as a doubles competitor. She currently ranks No. 90 in doubles while the 24-year-old Dabrowski is No. 52.
On Wednesday, Dabrowski and Martinez Sanchez led the first-set tiebreak 5-2 with the Spaniard serving when a strange thing occurred. There’s a camera on cables that floats back and forth from Court Philippe Chatrier to Court Suzanne Lenglen providing aerial shots. On her second serve leading 5-2 in the tiebreak, the camera (in the form of a miniature commercial airliner) went over Court 10 where they were playing and distracted Sanchez Martinez on her second serve and she hit a bad double fault. Gavrilova and Svitolina got back to 5-all and saved a set point at 6-5 when Svitolina hit a forehand winner that caught Martinez Sanchez poaching at the net. But Martinez Sanchez redeemed herself, making a successful poach to get to 7-6 and then wrapping up the tiebreak with an overhead winner of a weak lob by Svitolina.
This blog’s annual quest to find delicious croissants in Paris continues in 2016. Above is a picture – full frontal and in dissection – of the front runner so far.
Below it is the patisserie on avenue Bosquet where it came from.
Full disclosure here – a couple of days later another croissant from a nearby patisserie tasted just about as good.
Our criteria for a quality croissant are twofold: 1. It has to be light and flaky. 2. There has to be an appetizing hint of butter in the taste.