Day 1 diary: Next generation takes centre stage

 - Danielle Rossingh

The opening day of Roland-Garros started with a bang as an army of young players stormed into the second round.

Sebastian Korda, Roland Garros 2020 first round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Although the weather wreaked havoc with the schedule, Italian teenager Jannik Sinner made a stunning debut on the Parisian clay, ousting the 11th seeded Belgian David Goffin with sparkling tennis in straight sets in the first match ever played under the roof on the Court Philippe Chatrier.

Upset of the day

Although he is only 19, Sinner has already been touted as a multiple major winner by none other than John McEnroe after winning last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals for rising stars on the men’s tour.

This may only be Sinner’s fourth appearance in a main draw of a Grand Slam, but he adjusted himself to the cooler conditions like a seasoned pro.

“You have to have a good balance on court, the right speeds,” Sinner, a former top junior skier, told reporters. “Obviously you cannot go that big, because it's not going to help you that much. It's all a balance game.”

Quote of the day

Andy Murray was brutally honest after losing 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, his worst defeat in a major in six years:

“It's going to be difficult for me to play the same level as I did before. I mean, I'm 33 now and I was ranked No. 1 in the world, so it's difficult with all the issues that I have had.”

Korda kids shine

Just imagine playing a board game, or any game for that matter, with the Korda family. Chances are things may get a little competitive. Father Petr is a former Australian Open champion and runner-up at Roland-Garros after all, while his two daughters, Nelly and Jessica, are both golfers.

His 20-year-old son, Sebastian, upstaged his sisters on Sunday as he sent the Italian veteran Andreas Seppi packing in four sets in his first main draw match at Roland-Garros.

When they are all at home, the siblings like to square off on the golf course and the tennis court, Sebastian told reporters after his match. “My only claim to fame is the only tournament I ever played I won and I beat my sisters when I was like 11 years old, so, yeah, they will never live that one down,” he said, when asked if he played golf.

Teen hero of the day

Away from the limelight on Court No. 11, Russian qualifier Kamilla Rakhimova made her Grand Slam debut with an emphatic defeat of US Open quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers. Amazingly, the 19-year-old’s 6-2, 6-3 victory was only her second tour-level main draw win.

No wonder the world No.189 jumped for joy after beating the 2016 quarter-finalist from the US. “It’s so cool to be in the second round,” said Rakhimova, whose mother is a tennis coach. “I worked hard for it and now I understand that hard work pays off. It’s a special moment for me.”

Stats of the day

Venus Williams’ straight-sets loss to Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova means the seven-time major winner ends her season with just one win from just eight tournaments in a season shortened by the pandemic. But on the upside, the 40-year isn’t calling it quits just yet. When asked by reporters if she would be back next year, she said: “Yeah, definitely.” It was also a remarkable match for Schmiedlova, who ended a run of 13 straight losses in Grand Slam main draws.

Tweet of the day

For the first time in eight years, former quarter-finalist Carla Suarez Navarro won’t be competing in Paris. The 32-year-old Spaniard, who said at the start of 2020 this would be her final season, won’t be able to say goodbye to Roland-Garros because she is undergoing six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with early stage Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“So many memories over the past few years in Paris,” she tweeted at the start of play on Sunday.” I’ll miss you. All the best to those competing at @rolandgarros!”

Comeback of the day

The fightback of the day belonged to Austrian qualifier Jurij Rodionov, who recovered from two sets down to oust France’s Jeremy Chardy 10-8 in the final set, in a match that lasted four hours, 36 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Surprise of the day

Canadian wild card Eugenie Bouchard, a semi-finalist in 2014, won her first Grand Slam main draw match since last year’s Australian Open. Her next opponent will be Australia’s Daria Gavrilova, who pulled off a huge surprise of her own by beating the 24th seeded Ukrainian Daryana Yastremska, 6-4, 6-3. Gavrilova had only come back to tennis two weeks ago after being sidelined for a year with a foot injury.