French Open: Su-Wei Hsieh stuns Johanna Konta to secure biggest win of her career

Su-Wei Hsieh secured the biggest singles win of her career as she defeated a top 10 player for the first time in the form of Johanna Konta 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the first round at the French Open.

Ranked at 109 in the world, the Chinese Taipei player was on a five match losing streak and the signs looked ominous after losing the first set 6-1, but Hsieh dug deep and staved off five break points in the second set before taking it on a tiebreak. After trading breaks in the final set she held her nerve, staving off four break back points in the final game before ousting the seventh seed.

Hsieh advances to face Taylor Townsend in the second round after the American defeated Miyu Kato in straight sets 6-4, 6-0. There were also opening round victories for fifth seed Elina Svitolina, 21st seed Carla Suarez Navarro, Tsvetana Pironkova and Sorana Cirstea.

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French Open: Garbine Muguruza defeats Francesca Schiavone in battle of the former champions

Garbine Muguruza got her title defence at Roland Garros off to the perfect start after she came through a tough test against former champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

Making her final appearance at the French Open, Schiavone gave it everything she had out on court Philippe Chatrier but an early double break in the first set put the Spaniard in control. The Italian recovered from a break down in the second and even had a chance to up a break herself but Muguruza hung tough and closed it out in just over an hour and a half.

That win sets up a tough second round clash with Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Monica Niculescu in straight sets 7-5, 6-1. So far on day two there have also been wins on the women’s side for Yulia Putintseva, Richel Hogenkamp and Ons Jabeur.

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French Open: Tommy Robredo defeats Dan Evans, Ramos-Vinolas & Carreno Busta also advance

Tommy Robredo recovered from a set down to defeat Dan Evans 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 to book his place in the second round at the French Open in what is his last tournament with a protected ranking.

Evans has been very public about his dissatisfaction and lack of confidence playing on the clay but any signs of that looked far from his mind as he took a set and a break lead. Robredo did not panic and dug deep to get himself back in the set and once he snatched that he was in command. Breaks were traded but the 35-year-old was always in control and wrapped up the match after two hours and 47 minutes.

Elsewhere on day one at Roland Garros there were victories for three of Robredo’s Spanish compatriots. 19th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated qualifier Marius Copil 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-4, 6-2, while 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta eliminated Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez upset 26th seed Gilles Muller, winning 7-6(4), 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-2. There were also wins for Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, Mikhail Kukushkin, Taro Daniel and Horacio Zeballos.

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French Open: Novak Djokovic breezes past Aljaz Bedene to reach the second week

Novak Djokovic booked his place in the second week of Roland Garros after a comprehensive victory over the British number two Aljaz Bedene in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 and beat the fading light in Paris.

The players were originally scheduled to play the last match on court Philippe Chatrier, but the weather saw their match moved to Suzanne Lenglen. However, due to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s retirement in the first set against Ernest Gulbis the players were moved back to Philippe Chatrier before play got underway. Prior to this match, the two players had only met once before, which was also at a Grand Slam in the first round of the Australian Open last year. Djokovic was also victorious on that occasion 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Fast start from the Serb

The world number one came out firing, holding to love before earning a break point opportunity. The British number two did well to save it, finishing the point with an overhead smash winner, before saving a second break point as well. Djokovic was not to be denied on a third occasion as he forced Bedene to guide the backhand beyond the baseline to secure the break.

After getting a game on the board to settle the nerves Bedene tested the world number one in the fifth game. The Brit was unable to secure the break back on two chances, as Djokovic finally held on his sixth game point to win the game which lasted over eight minutes.

Both players had openings on their opponents serve in the next couple of games, Djokovic at 30-30 and Bedene at 15-30 on the world number ones serve, but neither could make the breakthrough as the Serb maintained his advantage at 5-2.

The world number one seized the moment, imposing himself on the Brit’s serve as he brought up two set points. Bedene saved the first with an ace but pulled his forehand into the tramlines on the second. First set to the Serb 6-2.

Bedene was competing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. Photo: Getty
Bedene was competing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. Photo: Getty

Djokovic continued to dominate in set number two

Bedene looked as though he may have caught the world number one cold at the start of the second set as he brought two break points. However, Djokovic calmly hit a forehand winner, overhead smash, and an ace as he hit his way out of the game to move in front 1-0.

After a couple of service holds, Bedene threw in his first real loose service games and a series of four successive unforced errors saw him drop serve for the third time in the match.

Frustration began to set in for the British number two as he dropped serve once again in the sixth game as he fell further behind down 5-1. There was a moment to savor for the Brit as he finally managed to break the Serb serves for the first time before clawing his way back to 5-3 behind. The Brit’s efforts were in vain as Djokovic made no mistake in serving out the set the second time.

More of the same in set three

Bedene had a problem with his eye at the start of the third set, inhibiting as the world number one grabbed an early break once again. This advantage was all that Djokovic needed to close out the set and the match in a nick of time as dusk fell. The Serb through to round four in straight sets, next up: Roberto Bautista Agut.

French Open: Kristina Mladenovic impresses in straight sets win over Timea Babos

It was a battle of the 23-year-olds which closed proceedings on day five of the French Open on court Philippe Chatrier as Kristina Mladenovic defeated Timea Babos in straight sets 6-4,  6-3.

The two players had met on four previous  occasions prior to this match, with Mladenovic leading their head to head 3-1. However, their only other meeting on clay came last year in Marrakech, where Babos was victorious in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.

Fast start from the Frenchwoman

In the opening game, Mladenovic was under a bit of pressure at 30-30 and deuce on serve but came through strongly before capitalizing on a string of unforced errors from Babos to get the immediate break.

The pendulum swings the Hungarian’s way

The fifth game of the match was an entertaining battle as Babos hit her way back into the game from 40-0 down with a combination of powerful ground strokes and a nice drop volley to finish. Five successive points from the Hungarian helped her secure the break back courtesy of a double-fault from the Frenchwoman.

With the momentum firmly with the Hungarian at this point, Babos took control of the first set in the seventh game, earning a couple of break point chances. Mladenovic saved the first with an ace, but Babos too strong on the second point as the 26th seed netted the volley to fall 4-3 behind.

The 26th seed hits back

The Frenchwoman reigned in her ball striking and took of some pace on her shots during the next game and was able to get the break straight back, not without the help of a very fortunate net cord to win the definitive point however.

That good fortune and the support from the home crowd took Mladenovic to the first set after hitting an exceptional forehand return off the Hungarian’s serve which she could not retrieve; first set Mladenovic 6-4.

One of the best performances on a singles court from Mladenovic this season so far. Photo: Getty
One of the best performances on a singles court from Mladenovic this season so far. Photo: Getty

Mladenovic’s momentum continues

Both players opened proceedings in the second set with comfortable service holds. The Frenchwoman clearly seemed to have taken confidence from her results in the doubles, considering that she had only won six matches on the WTA singles tour prior to this match. Clean hitting from the 26th seed helped her secure a crucial early break to take a 3-1 lead.

Mladenovic played a couple of loose points in her next service game, but she was not punished by her former doubles partner, as the Hungarian fell 4-1 behind.

In the seventh game, the 26th seed was under pressure again on serve down 0-30. The Frenchwoman was stung into action and found a few very strong, timely forehand winners to take a very commanding 5-2 lead.

Babos forced her opponent to serve it out, which was never going to be an easy task for the Frenchwoman in front of her home crowd after a lack of match wins. The signs looked ominous as she fell down 15-30, but a stunning backhand down the line winner followed up with a delightful drop shot closed out the match in style for the 26th seed. A straight sets win for Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3, she progresses to face Serena Williams in the third round.

French Open: Heather Watson battles her way past Nicole Gibbs over two days

Heather Watson came through a tough test over two days to prevail against her doubles partner Nicole Gibbs in three sets 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 on day two of the French Open.

Strong opening set from the American

Both players had to battle through tough opening service games to hold, with Watson’s lasting five minutes before Gibbs saw her 40-0 advantage on serve evaporate.

The American appeared to be struggling with her serve and had a lot of strapping on her shoulder, raising the question as to how much practicing she had been able to do in recent times. The Brit capitalized on this chance and broke her opponent in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead.

Gibbs responded immediately, with exceptional shot making to bring up two break points. Watson saved the first with an overhead smash which could not be retrieved, before finding an exceptional short court angle off of the backhand to save the second. When facing a third break point the Brit was resolute in defense and a series of moon balls were struck as she used the heavy conditions to her advantage. The American was not disheartened and earned her reward on a fourth break point as Watson drove her backhand beyond the baseline.

In the eighth game, Watson had the chance to restore her break advantage, but Gibbs hung in well, refusing to miss in an extended rally to save the break point and go on to hold to level at 4-4.

After missing the opportunities to break, the Brit was punished in her next service game, dropping serve before the American closed out the set 7-5.

Stop-start second set

The next set began with both players holding serve early on before rain stopped play for a couple of hours with Watson leading 3-2.

It was this delay which proved to be a catalyst in shifting the momentum in the match. Watson went on to break in the first game after the restart and then held serve comfortably before breaking again to level the match at one set all.

Tight start to the third set

Watson may have taken the set, but with all the momentum with her, it was Gibbs who imposed herself on the Brit’s opening service game. Under pressure at 30-30, Watson landed a crucial volley to thwart the danger and hold to take a 1-0 lead.

In the third game, the American made the pressure tell as she earned herself three break points. Watson saved the first with a volley before Gibbs netted an attempted drop shot winner on the second. But it was the Brit who produced the error in the third after a missed volley to hand the break to her opponent.

In the following game, Watson looked to bounce back with a half chance at 15-30, but the American recovered to 40-30 before the umpire stopped play due to the court being unsafe to play on as the rain returned.

The rain fell at the perfect times for Watson in this match. Photo: Getty
The rain fell at the perfect times for Watson in this match. Photo: Getty

Play resumes on day two

The players returned on day two at around 5:30pm local time with Gibbs serving at 2-1, 40-30, final set. Gibbs dropped the next point to put herself under pressure at deuce and the Brit sought to take full advantage at break point. The American forced her opponent into an error to deny Watson the break back, but she could not deny her a second time as the Brit leveled at two games all.

Both players continued to play edgy tennis as Watson saw her 40-0 advantage on serve slip to deuce. The Brit made an important backhand overhead winner to get back to game point and held to move back in front.

With the momentum with her once again, the Brit produced her best return game of the match. Watson struck three forehand winners in a row before nailing a backhand return of serve winner down the line to break to love.

Watson was not out of the woods yet as several game points passed her by as she found herself break point down. The Brit came up with a key forehand winner picked out of the air to save it before proceeding to secure a crucial hold to move one game away.

The near 24-hour break in play proved to be rotten luck for the American, but Watson adapted to the adversity and conditions well to progress after breaking Gibbs once more to secure the win 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. The Brit will progress to face Svetlana Kuznetsova and will be looking to reach the third round in Paris for the first time.

French Open: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga delighted to be able to play in Paris

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is very upbeat and positive to be in Paris preparing to start another campaign at Roland Garros. An injury scare in Rome a couple of weeks ago left some question marks over the Frenchman’s fitness, but the two-time semifinalist is feeling in good shape and ready to play.

Tsonga withdrew from the Rome Masters after injuring a thigh muscle during a practice session. It became apparent that he had stretched his adductor and all eyes turned to whether or not the home favorite would grace the courts of Roland Garros in 2016.

Tsonga: I was quickly reassured about being able to play here

In a press conference, the Frenchman was asked when he knew that he would be able to compete at his home Grand Slam following the scare in Rome.

“Well, the decision, I took it last year when I decided to start a new season. Then after the little glitch in Rome I was fairly quickly reassured – I talked to my physicians and they told me it would be fine. They said, you’ll go.”

Upon being asked whether he did anything different to usual in terms of mentally preparing for the event, the world number seven recognized the physical challenges of playing on clay and was determined to me as ready as possible.

“I did a lot of re-education for my adductors. I did a lot of physical work, which is, I guess, standard practice. You know, this is a tough tournament where you can play very long games, first of all, very long matches, and I wanted to be physically in good shape hopefully to go as far as possible for each game.”

Tsonga has reached the semifinal stage twice - 2013 (l. Ferrer) and 2015 (l. to Wawrinka) Photo: Getty
Tsonga has reached the semifinal stage twice – 2013 (l. Ferrer) and 2015 (l. to Wawrinka) Photo: Getty

“Being here today I think is a real opportunity”

It is clear that the Frenchman feels fortunate to be here and in the position where he is able to play and he did not draw any comparisons between his and Roger Federer’s situations.

“Honestly, simply being here is a great opportunity. Roger has won lots of tournaments, Grand Slams, and so the approach, I think, is the way you arrive at a tournament is just not the same between him and me. 

“Again, I’m very happy to be here, and I’m here to do as well as I can, and I’m sure of course he would say the same. 

“But I have had a lot of difficulties in my career, and you just can’t say every single time something goes wrong I’m not playing, because I would have almost never played or half seasons only. 

“Being here today I think is a real opportunity. I’m very happy to be here. Simply getting on the court is wonderful.”

Mixed results on the clay this season

Tsonga’s results on the clay have been mixed, but a terrific run to the semifinals at the Monte Carlo Masters is not something which should be overlooked. The Frenchman overcame Federer in a fine win in the last eight 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 before falling to compatriot Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-3.

The world number seven then suffered a straight sets defeat at the hands of Milos Raonic in the last 16 in Madrid 6-4, 6-4, his last competitive match. Tsonga, seeded sixth at Roland Garros this year, will face the qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff in his opening match on Tuesday.