Day 2 Diary: Keys serves reminder to Big Foe

Former semi-finalist survives upset queen Kanepi to reach second round

Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys, Roland-Garros 2023, practice© Julien Crosnier/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Day 2 of Roland-Garros 2023 saw a host of contenders making the most of their good fortunes.

Here’s what you might have missed…

Still almost two years shy of her 30th birthday, calling Madison Keys a veteran could be considered a tad rich.

Granted the 2018 Roland-Garros semi-finalist was the seventh-youngest player to win a WTA match in her debut at age 14 at Ponte Vedra and that came back in 2009.

Perhaps experienced campaigner would be more apt, considering her first-round victim in Paris on Monday, Kaia Kanepi, is 10 years her senior.

The powerful Estonian came into her showdown with the 20th seed owning a 15-22 record against seeds in the opening two rounds of a Grand Slam.

Madison Keys, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Fortunately for Keys, she avoided becoming victim No.16, defeating the 38-year-old 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

“I think the level that she still plays is incredible and the career that she's had is honestly inspiring,” Key said before an assurance her playing days were more finite. “I will not be doing that personally.”

Keys was already dealing with age-related jibes from her compatriot and United Cup-winning teammate Frances Tiafoe.

“Yeah. Usually it's ‘mom’. Not quite grandma yet,” Keys said.

“I always remind him that I'm not that much older than him, but he'll always say things like, ‘Oh, I remember watching you on TV when I was a kid’. I'm, like, I'm not that much older than you.

“I think at this point he just likes to do it to make me feel old. I always tell him he will find out one day.”

Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys, Roland-Garros 2023, practice© Julien Crosnier/FFT

Osorio flips her fortunes

Against the unluckiest of odds, qualifying top seed Camila Osorio missed out on taking her place in the main draw at Roland-Garros five times this year before an unlikely door opening.

The Colombian took her third-round qualifying defeat to Mirra Andreeva in her stride and all but given up on her chances, but it was a case of sixth time lucky after Caty McNally’s withdrawal allowed Osorio to feature in the main draw as a lucky loser.

“I was kind of mad, to be honest. I was sad. I started crying when they did the draw, but there was nothing I could do to control it,” Osorio said.

“When I heard that there was a retirement, I was like, OK, come on. Maybe one more chance, one more chance. In the end McNally retired, so I'm lucky to be here. I'm also grateful to have the chance to be playing, well, now in the second round.”

Osorio’s 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Romanian Ana Bogdan booked a clash with 28th seed Elise Mertens.

Camila Osorio, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Andre Ferreira/FFT

Fognini finds his groove

While it is 12 years since former world No.9 Fabio Fognini’s sole Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris, the Italian is not quite ready to hang up the racquet just yet.

A renowned shot-maker, Fognini has plummeted to world No.130 this season due to a stop-start run with injuries.

On Monday, he wound back the clock on Court Simonne-Mathieu where he coasted past an illness-impaired 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

“I'm still here,” Fognini said in his 16th Paris campaign. “At 36. Well I don't know how many Roland-Garros I’m going to play.

“From 50 per cent, maybe I'm old, yeah 16. But from the other 50 per cent I could say well I'm lucky because I play with this young generation, they play unbelievable so as I say, I'd like to enjoy until the end.”

The win improved his record at his best major to 25-14 and booked a second-round clash with Australian Jason Kubler.

Fabio Fognini, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

High praise for rising teen

Rapidly rising French hope Arthur Fils bowed out in his main draw debut on Monday but drew a huge compliment from his vanquisher, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Spaniard reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris two years ago, the same year Fils finished runner-up in the boys’ singles.

After arriving in Lyon a week ago ranked No.408 Fils captured his first tour title to skyrocket to the brink of the top 60.

“The confidence that he has, he won a 250 last week in Lyon, with the crowd, was tough to play today but I'm really happy for the win,” Davidovich Fokina said.

“For sure he's going to be the best player in the world."

Stat of the day

Former champion Stan Wawrinka flew the flag for the experienced campaigners, steadying to hold off Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The 2015 champion prevailed 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-7(2), 1-6, 6-4 over the Spaniard.

It marked his 11th five-set victory at Roland-Garros, the most in the Open Era, eclipsing Gael Monfils’ and Harold Solomon’s 10 each.

Stan Wawrinka, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Philippe Montigny / FFT