Day 1 Diary: Comebacks, hearts and all-star doubles

 - Alex Sharp

Elena Vesnina provided plenty of feel-good factor to book a second round with No.11 seed Petra Kvitova.

Elena Vesnina, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Day 1 of Roland Garros 2021 has been absolutely jam-packed with quality, drama and heart-warming moments.

Here is what you might have missed in Paris…

Vesnina back on the major stage

Elena Vesnina is well and truly back!

The Russian missed 2019 and 2020 on maternity leave after becoming a mother to her first child.

On Sunday, the 34-year-old chalked up her first singles match-win since 2018 with an impressively commanding 6-1, 6-0 passage past Belarusian lucky loser Olga Govortsova.

“It's really a big moment for me. I really felt inspired today on the court. I was not putting any pressure on myself, first of all. I was in a zone that I really wanted to keep that zone,” stated world No.1096 Vesnina, who has twice featured in the singles third round (2015 and 2017) in Paris.

Elena Vesnina, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Vesnina, also Roland-Garros doubles champion in 2013, made sure to check out the competition.

“I was watching the draw, and I have no idea how they are playing. You have to scout. I went to watch some quallies matches on Friday, and I saw like 60, 70 per cent of the new girls was playing really good. So I was like, it's tough. It's tricky to face a qualifier in the first round. It’s a special win," she added.

'I'm glad I beat myself'

Vesnina’s reward is a bout with No.11 seed Petra Kvitova.

The Czech was nearly sent to pack her bags but the two-time Wimbledon champion evaded match point to edge past qualifier Greet Minnen 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-1.

“I was fighting not only with her but with myself as well. I'm glad that in the end I beat myself as well and beat her, so that counts,” said the Roland-Garros 2020 semi-finalist.

Kvitova holds a 2-0 record against the former world No.13 Vesnina.

Shot of the Day

Italian 27th-seed Fabio Fognini stole the show on Day 1 with this deft lob winner during his straight-sets win over home favourite Gregoire Barrere.

Tsitsipas heart for Guga

Joao from Rio had a chance to ask No.5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas a question in our ‘Fans 2 Players” series.

He went with, “If you win Roland-Garros, I dare you to draw a heart on the court and lie down in it.”

That rings a bell from a classic Roland-Garros moment from three-time champion Gustavo 'Guga' Kuerten.

Tsitsipas, who tried to hire Guga as part of his coaching staff early last year, was on board.

“I will most likely do it, Joao," Tsitsipas responded. "I would like to do exactly what Guga Kuerten did. That was really cool. If it happens I will not miss the opportunity to do it.”

‘Empowering’ talk for courageous Collins

It’s a welcome sight to see American Danielle Collins back on court in Paris.

Since reaching the 2020 quarter-finals at Roland-Garros last autumn, the 27-year-old has had surgery to remove a cyst the size of a tennis ball from her uterus.

Still working back to full fitness, the fierce competitor navigated past Chinese qualifier Wang Xiyu 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 and spoke about her medical battles.

Danielle Collins, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

“I've had a handful of different women that have reached out to me, friends, family, people that I don't know, that I've never met that have been affected by endometriosis. It's been kind of nice to have that sense of community because I think when you're living with these types of things, sometimes it can be very isolating because you feel alone and that you're dealing with these problems,” the world No.50 told reporters.

“Sometimes there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel. So if I can ever be a friend to somebody and share my experience, hopefully that can offer them some knowledge or information that maybe they didn't know before. I think just being able to talk about it with other women is empowering.”

McDonald tips hat to Korda

American tennis has a crop of youngsters seeking that major breakthrough and qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, through to take on Cristian Garin in the second round, has praised the continued rise of compatriot Sebastian Korda, who just lifted a maiden title in Parma.

“I like seeing some of the guys up there. It pushes me to get up there, too. I think even Sebi doing well. I think that's good for all of us to see, and we're going to keep pushing, too," said the 26-year-old McDonald.

All eyes on Team VeCoco

The doubles draws have served up a plethora of brilliant pairings.

There’s nowhere else to start other than with teen sensation Coco Gauff teaming up with one of her idols Venus Williams.

2019 champion Ashleigh Barty is partnering Jennifer Brady, while both 2020 singles finalists will feature. Iga Swiatek will be alongside Bethanie-Mattek Sands and Sofia Kenin is joining Belinda Bencic.

On the men’s side, Italian prodigy Lorenzo Musetti has recruited Tommy Paul and French youngsters Arthur Cazaux and Hugo Gaston represent a wildcard duo oozing with flair.

Heartbreak of the day

16th seed Grigor Dimitrov suffered some rotten luck facing American Marcos Giron.

The Bulgarian was leading by two sets and 5-1, then had three match points, but a reoccurring back injury struck.

Dimitrov had to retire in the fourth set and world No.82 Giron moves on to meet Argentine Guido Pella.

Bogdan clears first hurdle first

The second-highest-ranked Romanian in the draw Ana Bogdan clinched the very first victory of Roland-Garros 2021 with a 6-1, 6-3 scoreboard facing Italian lucky loser Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

The world No.102’s reward is a clash with No.2 seed Naomi Osaka.

Bogdan’s Instagram story showed her “rally gang” supporting her from home, which included her friends watching her match on a phone screen in a car!

Stat of the day