Written by: Peter Figura
***Peter is an award winning photographer and has been involved in tennis for almost 40 years. He contributes to Ontario Tennis Magazine and some tennis publications in Europe. His work has been published in Rogers Cup Souvenir Program, and he also contributes his work to Tennis Matters charity. Peter works with several tennis Clubs to help them get high quality tennis photography into marketing publications and displays.***
In her first French Open appearance Canadian Rebecca Marino performed like a tour veteran. Not bothered by the fact that she was playing on Court 17 (the farthest from the Philippe Chartier Stadium) where the stand are very small, and the crown support relatively weak. That there were no (or very, very few) Canadian fans watching, or even the fact that people gathered around mainly because the next door there was Rafael Nadal practicing with Milos Raonic.
Marino played Kataryna Bondarenko, who although ranked number 110 on the WTA Tour (Marino is number 60) was in the past sitting comfortable inside top 30. And that’s why many commentators were expecting a tough match for the Canadian player. But Marino had a very different opinion. She took control of the match almost from the very first point, jumping to 2:0 lead. Bondarenko looks like she couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of this match that was decided literally in those first two games. In the crucial moment the Ukrainian double faulted twice giving Marino a comfortable lead 6:3 in the first set. From that moment it was just a matter of time before the match was over.
First day of the 2011 Roland Garros was relatively uneventful. The biggest upset came with the very first match played on court 7, where relatively unknown Spaniard, who as a matter of fact is closing the first top 100 of the ATP rankings – Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo won is straight sets (7:6, 6:4, 6:4) against number 19 seed – Marin Cilic from Croatia. Cilic seems to be controlling very early part of the match holding his serve, and marking Hidalgo work very hard to stay even, but the number of unforced errors (67 from Cilic vs. 34 from Hidalgo) made it virtually impossible for give himself a chance to win.
On the women’s side of the tournament number 19 Flavia Panetta and number 19 Sahar Peer both lost their matches to much lower ranked opponents. Particularly Panetta match (lost in 3 sets to American Varvara Lepchenko) was a disappointing one, as she not only is top 20 ranked player (she was as high as number 10) and number 1 in doubles, but did relatively well in Paris getting twice to the fourth round. Her opponent in 3 previous Paris appearances never went past the second round.
Today is going to be a very busy day in Paris. Novak Djokovic is putting his 37 matches winning streak on the line when he is playing Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker. Roger Federer will play Feliciano Lopez whom he met few weeks ago in Madrid (Loped had a match point) and three Canadians will be playing almost at the same time. Aleksandra Wozniak will be facing Jumri Namigata of Japan, Franck Dancevic will play Simone Bolelli of Italy, and Milos Raonic who is the first Canadian player to be seeded at the Grand Slam tournament will open his campaign on Court 16 against Michael Berrer of Germany.