Rounds 1 and 2 – October 31 and November 1, 2017
Kyle got an early break but couldn’t hold it. In fact he played sloppy while Evgeny hit some pretty nice shots and broke Kyle’s serve several times. He deserved to win the set and did so with a lucky net ball at set point. Kyle fought back but still his level of play wasn’t what was needed to beat Evgeny. Kyle won a close tiebreaker 9-7 and had a lucky net ball to help him too. Evgeny’s level dropped and Kyle got an early 4-1 lead which Evgeny couldn’t overcome. It was indeed the ‘scrappy match’ Kyle said it was in the post match interview.
Pierre-Hugues was clearly the crowd’s favourite and he didn’t disappoint with a ‘tweener’ after 10 minutes into the game at 2-1. Lopez was clearly caught by surprise and late to react at the net. Other than that, some nice serve and volley exchanges in this match in which Lopez was more solid and beat Pierre-Hugues in straight sets.
What an amazingly close clash of generations between Fernando and Andrey on Court 1. Fernando kept on the pressure with deep topspin shots and sometimes nasty slice backhands to keep his opponent in the backcourt. Andrey hit his strokes flat out without holding anything back. Andrey is skinny but produces tremendous power and has a ‘no fear’ attitude. Such an amazing raw talent but mentally not yet stable. His racket bounced around more than once during the match. It was a joy to watch these two fight and go after each other. Verdasco took the match. No doubt his experience and support from many Spanish fans helped him.
Filip qualified for the tournament and beat Sugita in the first round. He looked fit and in rhythm. He didn’t show spectacular tennis in this match but was rock solid all around and when he needed to. It was nice to watch. Sam looked flat, slow and slightly frustrated. Not sure whether he was just tired after a long year or something else (other than his opponent) bothered him. He got a warning for hitting a ball into the roofing. Sam served his way out of trouble a few times but Filip managed to squeeze out the victory (and amazingly reached the final later).
Don’t know what happened to Pablo after he started well. His game kind of collapsed after the first set. Pablo committed many errors and Nicolas was just decent. At one point Pablo reacted to the crowd, gesturing them to continue booing him after throwing his racket. Clearly it didn’t help his cause. As the fan favourite, Nicolas closed it out in two sets in a match that will not be remembered as a spectacle. Another seeded player out early.
The final match of the day on centre court was one of the best. Thiem was great in the first set but it was clear from the start that Peter was in good shape, playing some great tennis. Thiem’s class won him the first set. Dominic was 40-0 up and had three match points in the second set but Peter produced some winners and Dominic some errors, which resulted in five straight points for Peter. Peter also won the following tiebreak. Dominic relied on his fighting spirit and class in the third set and won it 6-4. A fantastic fight by both players. Peter also got a rightfully deserved ovation from the crowd.
November 1, 2017
First match on centre court wednesday and Haase started well but lost the first set to Zverev. Robin looked negative in the first set but stayed calm and played some great tennis throughout the rest of the match. Zverev couldn’t turn it around and Haase stepped off the court a deserved and happy winner. In the post match talk the interviewer asked if Haase played so well because he had nothing to lose. Robin said ‘I do have something to lose because if I lose I have to go home and I don’t want that.’ Amen to that and a great victory!
Only one man was going to win this match and it was Lucas Pouille. Lucas showed tremendous power and determination. Boosted by the crowd, he overpowered Feliciano Lopez in a convincing straight sets victory. It was clear from the start that Lucas was in great form after his tournament win in Vienna the week before.
Great match with Hyeon Chung breaking early in the first set and playing excellent tennis through most of the match. Rafa was properly tested by the young Korean. But in the end Nadal was just too good today. Rafa strikes on the decisive moments and you feel it coming, too. What an amazing athlete. But I was happy to see Hyeon’s grit and explosive strokes. He’s got a decent serve for such a short guy. His mentality looks rock solid and he’s not afraid. He’s fast and defends very well too. Very cool and solid dude and I can see Chung in the top-10 within two years.
An all-french clash and I witnessed their previous encounter in Antwerp two weeks earlier also. It couldn’t have been a more different match this time! Julien didn’t find a good rhythm early and “Jo” easily outpaced him. Slowly but surely Benneteau got in the match and started to hit some great strokes. He struggled a bit on serve sometimes but won his games. Tsonga got frustrated here and there and couldn’t adapt to Julien’s improving game. Benneteau won the tiebreak and and surprisingly easily won the third set too.
Battle of two awesome one-handed backhands! Gasquet fought well and survived some tough situations by making great shots at the net and from the baseline. Nevertheless Dimitrov’s class was all over this match. Both his forehand and backhand were magnificent. He hit them deep and with awesome precision. Richard mixed his game up at the net and the crowd showed great support. Dimitrov was undisturbed and even had some french fans rooting for him. Solid win for Grigor.
I arrived just in time for this potential cracker, which in my opinion should have been a centre court match even though Cilic lead 5-0 in H2H. But hey…Court 1 is a pretty nice one in Bercy as you can sit close to the action. So I decided to sit literally almost behind Borna and support him during the match. It couldn’t prevent Marin Cilic from being rock solid and serving like a beast with 10 aces in the first set alone.
Marin was simply to good for Borna today who started out with his right knee taped. As always I liked Coric’ determination and intensity. He fist pumped at winning a point at 0-0, 40-0 in the first set on Cilic’s serve. Rarely have I ever seen such a desire to win in a player.
A weird moment in the match was when Coric asked the referee for the trainer/doctor and the ref had trouble using the walkie-talkie. When Cilic was ready to serve, the walkie-talkie started cracking as if someone tried to respond to the call. It happened again later and again exactly when Cilic wanted to serve. Marin said “What are you doing with your walkie-talkie? It happens like seventeen times”. Coric didn’t get any treatment and later asked the ref if he had asked for that because he actually couldn’t remember it. A man equipped with a backpack did show up to the ref but nothing happened.
Roberto is a boss. He played very well in the few games that I managed to see in the second set and Chardy was struggling to keep up with the pace. Bautista Agut had the crowd stunned a few times by getting impossible balls back. Much to the delight of his family and friends in the crowd. The Spaniard moves on to Round 3. It was the last match of the day and for me the last of the tournament. A great event and I thoroughly enjoyed it!