PARIS, May 26, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan and Florian Heer)
The start of action at the 2019 French Open on Sunday not only saw some big names in the men’s singles draw – the bottom half, to be precise – but also highly-entertaining matches. The seeded players, scheduled to play early evening got through their respective openers, unlike in the women’s draw, where the fifth seed Angelique Kerber became the first casualty of the day (lost to Anastasia Potapova).
This is how things transpired, then, in Paris:
Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was quick in tackling the World No. 110 German Maximilian Marterer in their match. The Greek won 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4) in an hour and 48 minutes. The first two sets sped by quickly thanks to Tsitsipas winning two breaks of serve each in each set. In the third set, the German was at his resilient best – in saving a break point and taking the set past regulation score line – but the World No. 6 ended it on his terms in the tie-break.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) 26. Mai 2019
Speaking to the media after his match, Tsitsipas said, “I was playing really well the first two sets of the match. Better than I thought I would. Third set was tricky. I felt like he started pressing more, started going for his shots more, faster, stronger. It went his way; I was couple times Love-30 on his serve. I can say he played pretty well on these moments. Yeah, stayed mentally strong and closed the tiebreak at the end. Then didn’t break, didn’t break, and that helped me make my job easier and get the match straight in three straight sets, which is good to start a tournament like this.”
Eleventh seed Marin Cilic, too, had a similar story to tell as he fashioned an emphatic win for himself against Italian Thomas Fabbiano. The Croatian, a two-time quarter-finalist here, won 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 in 130 minutes. Cilic will next take on Grigor Dimitrov.
Speaking about his second-round match, Cilic told the press, “You know, to play Grigor in the second round is one of the toughest draws. You know, obviously we’ll see how it goes with his match. But, you know, I have to prepare the best I can and to play, you know, my level of tennis and try to play as good as I can. And I know that Grigor didn’t have as many wins as we would expect him to see, but I still think that his level is good. He’s playing really good and maybe just that, you know, one or two matches here and there can make a difference… It’s definitely a tough challenge, but, you know, I hope I can play great.”
The Bulgarian, who is unseeded in the draw this year, came through in a lopsided tussle against Janko Tipsarevic. After taking a two-sets-to-love lead, Dimitrov lost the next two sets before taking the win in a tense fifth set, saving a break point while serving for the match. At the end of three hours and two minutes of play, the score read 6-3, 6-0, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4 in the 28-year-old’s favour.
Otte sets second round clash with Federer
Other players who advanced on the day included seventh seed Kei Nishikori who defeated French wild card Quentin Halys 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Twenty-ninth seed Matteo Berrettini also came through in a four-setter against Pablo Andujar 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Lastly, German lucky loser Oscar Otte defeated Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0. He awaits Roger Federer, next.
“It’s going to be a big match for me,” Otte told German media representatives and is looking forward to his meeting with the 20-time Grand Slam champion from Switzerland. “I will have two days off now, trying to get along with the situation. When you think of tennis, you automatically think of Roger. Of course, he was one of my idols. It will be an incredible experience. The atmosphere will be fantastic.”
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) 26. Mai 2019
Otte, who captured one title on the ATP Challenger Tour in Lisbon two years ago, advanced to the second round of a major for the first time. “I have met Roger only once before in the changing room. He said ‘hello’, but nothing more,” the 25-year-old from Cologne said about his one and only meeting with the Swiss maestro.
“My biggest weapon on court is my serve. I enjoyed a couple of good weeks on the Challenger Tour but of course it is great to reach the second round of a Grand Slam and I hope to gain some confidence from it. I have already collected some points to help me cracking the top 100,” Otte said about his goals for the rest of the season.