The First Round

So what did we see?

We saw Stan Wawrinka lose two out of the first three sets against Lukas Rosol before pulling himself together to win. He nearly became the first ever defending champion to lose in the first round the following year.

And then there's Andy Murray. I said that after his win in Rome, Murray should have a lot of momentum going into this tournament. Umm, right. He dropped the first two sets of his match against 37-year-old Radek Stepanek and struggled in the fifth before finally prevailing.

These extra sets have a real energy cost. The flow of Grand Slams is really different from other tournaments. Playing best-of-three-set matches every day, as in a regular tournament, is energetically quite different from playing a best-of-five-set match every other day. The deeper you push your body, the longer it takes to recover. It's not linear. It's easier to play three-setters on back-to-back days than to play a five-setter, take a day off, and then play another five-setter. If Wawrinka or Murray lose early in this tournament, the culprit could very well be their inability to get out of their first-round matches without expending too much energy.

Meanwhile, the rest of the top men's seeds handled their business without too much travail. Nadal beat Sam Groth 6-1 6-1 6-1, Djokovic handled Yen-Hsun Lu in relatively straightforward straight-set fashion, and Nishikori did the same against Simone Bolelli.

And then there's the women. Sigh. The women.

Angelique Kerber's dream of competing for a calendar year Grand Slam made it all the way to the first round of the second Grand Slam of the year. She was the 3-seed and lost to Kiki Bertens in three sets. Victoria Azarenka, who won in Indian Wells and Miami, looked poised to have a strong French Open, but did something to her knee and had to retire at 0-4 in the third set. Roberta Vinci, the woman who beat Serena at the US Open, here seeded 7th, crashed out 6-1 6-3. Muguruza, the 4-seed, very nearly lost.

At least there were some good performances among the top seeds. Simona Halep, the 6-seed, won 6-2 6-0. Agnieszka Radwanska won 6-0 6-2.

And then there was Serena herself. Against Magdalena Rybarikova, number 77 in the world, Serena actually got broken on her second service game--and then shifted into second gear and won the next eleven games to win 6-2 6-0. No wasted energy on this one.

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