Roland Garros day 1 diary and highlights: Sweltering heat and laughing fits

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  • Tough but victorious day in the office: For Kuznetsova.

    It often seems that Roland Garros only deals in extremes. It’s either freezing cold, wet, windy and with constant showers like last year, or there’s a heat wave, with so much humidity, it makes Dubai’s summer weather feel like spring.

    Right now, it’s the latter, and it ain’t pretty. The 20-minute walk from my hotel to the tennis, that includes at least three stops for security checks, feels like a marathon and you get to the stadium feeling so sweaty, I’m half-tempted to sneak into the players’ locker room to take a shower.

    Players had to contend with two things on Sunday – tough weather conditions and first round nerves. No one can escape those first round nerves, even a veteran and former champion like Svetlana Kuznetsova. She had such a tough time on court on Sunday that she lost track of the score and didn’t know she was serving for the match.

    “It was really, really tough. I was playing not so good. Like, you know, when you’re so nervous and you kind of gotta relax and just play the game. Like, I felt like I was playing against myself,” she told us after her 7-5, 6-4 win over Christina McHale.

    “And on the changeover when it was 4-3, I thought it was 4-3. I heard it was 5-4, and then I was just serving for the match. So umpire got me really happy. I’m like, ‘What is the score?’ He’s like, 5-4. I’m like, ‘Oh, good’. And he looked at me like I was from another planet. And it looked to me better because I couldn’t win my service games, and I got so much happier and I could finish it. I mean, it was a really difficult match for me.”

    What a legend!

    It was quite a funny day all around in press conferences as I somehow, unintentionally, sent Grigor Dimitrov into laughter after his straight-sets win over Stephane Robert.

    I asked the Bulgarian how it felt to finally claim his first Roland Garros match win since 2013 and he immediately started laughing.

    “I was sure that question was coming. It’s great. I’m so happy,” said a chuckling Dimitrov.

    I’m not sure what I did there but I generally aim to please so…

    Meanwhile in the players’ lounge, I spotted Victoria Azarenka who made a surprise appearance at Kids’ Day on Saturday, and stuck around Sunday as well. She was dressed in tennis gear which perhaps means she did some training on-site, in preparation for her grand return from maternity leave next month?

    Moving on, here are the highlights of day one in sweltering Paris…

    Point of the day

    Stats of the day

    1 – Angelique Kerber became the first top-seeded woman in the Open Era to lose in the first round of Roland Garros.

    10 – Top-10 wins for Ekaterina Makarova at Grand Slams, the fourth-most amongst active female players.

    31 – Winners from Petra Kvitova in her first match back from hand surgery. 15 of those came off the forehand wing. Welcome back Petra!

    Quote of the day

    “Tennis is, I think, just a simple game for – you know, for, I guess, for intelligent people so…”
    — Grigor Dimitrov tries to get philosophical. 

    “My all time favourite thing – because she (my friend Julie Coin) drives around on a little Vespa – is driving around on the back of her Vespa around Paris. This is the highlight. She has a little yellow one and I named it Bumble. So, like, I’m, like, I just want to go every where on Bumble. Take me on Bumble. So that’s the highlight of Paris for me is riding the Vespa.” — Madison Brengle told reporters after her 1-6, 6-3, 13-11 win over Julia Goerges

    Upset of the day

    Cagla Buyukakcay bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni [22] 6-3, 6-3

    This time last year, Buyukakcay made history for Turkish tennis by becoming the first ever Turkish woman to win a Grand Slam main draw match. It seems Paris brings the best out of Buyukakcay, who on Sunday upset No22 seed and Australian Open semi-finalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets to reach the second round. The world No155 faces last year’s quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers.

    Camera position of the day

    GIF of the day

    Random moment of the day

    Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe was at the tennis on Sunday and for some reason, they thought it was funny to give him a tennis ball as a “Ballon d’Or”.

    Day 2 highlights

    Garbine Muguruza (ESP) [4] v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)

    Alexander Zverev (GER) [9] v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

    Benoit Paire (FRA) v Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4]

    Ons Jabeur (TUN) v Ana Bogdan (ROU)

    Marin Cilic (CRO) [7] v Ernests Gulbis