No.32 seed Tommy Robredo is back knocking on the door of the world’s elite. The 31-year-old Spaniard rattled off his 18th win of the year on Monday, seeing off Estonian Jurgen Zopp 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 with the proverbial minimum of fuss.
In a real return to form, Robredo has made the quarters in Estoril and Barcelona and won in Casablanca – his first title in two years and 11th overall, ten of which have come on clay – making him a good outside tip to make it through to the second week here at the French. Indeed this was his 30th win on the Roland Garros clay, a place where he has made the quarters on no fewer than four occasions.
In a match carried over from Sunday night, Feliciano Lopez upset the form-book with a five-set win over fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers. The tie was nip and tuck throughout, but the mercurial lefty, better known for his serving and hard-court prowess (and the fact that Andy Murray’s mother, GB Fed Cup coach Judy, has quite a penchant for his play) edged home 6-4 in the decider to eliminate the No.31 seed.
With Rafael Nadal progressing at the expense of Daniel Brands (see related article), there were five Spanish winners on Monday courtesy of No.11 seed Nicolas Almagro's win over Andreas Haider-Maurer, though the Austrian lucky loser did win the first set before succumbing 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, and Daniel Gimeno Traver's shock upset of No.16 seed Juan Monaco in an up-and-down five-setter.
One seed above Almagro, No.10 Marin Cilic won the battle of two players struggling for form, brushing aside Philipp Petzschner 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, while another German, qualifier Andreas Beck, was also sent packing in straight sets by a seed, Fabio Fognini (No.28) winning 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
Another tall Eastern European seed, No.21 Jerzy Janowicz, continued his love affair with Paris. The giant Pole shot to prominence last November, making the final of the indoor ATP Masters 1000 tournament across the city in Bercy, and today he bested Albert Ramos 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-3, getting better as the match wore on.
Radek Stepanek fell in three tie-breaks to Nick Kyrgios, winner of the junior Australian Open and beneficiary of a wild card thanks to a reciprocal arrangement between the French and Australian federations. The youngster hung tough and took the final breaker 12-10.
World No.762 Pablo Cuevas, who is only here thanks to a protected ranking after missing an entire season through injury, came from behind to defeat French wild card Adrian Mannarino in five sets. Roland Garros is a happy hunting ground for Cuevas (photo), the Uruguayan having won the men's doubles here back in 2008.
Julien Benneteau restored French pride however, but not without a scare along the way. The No.30 seed who lives a mere stone's throw from the stadium wasted three match points in the third set but won it in four, 7-6(5), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5). Edouard-Roger Vasselin, whose father lost to Yannick Noah in the semis here 30 years ago, also made it through in four sets.
Ernests Gulbis, viewed as a perennial underachiever on the biggest stage, got off to a flyer here at Roland Garros with a 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva. The flawed Latvian genius did however manage to rack up five wins in Barcelona and four in Rome over the past month, and even took a set off Nadal at the Foro Italico - perhaps he is gearing up to make a run to the second week here...