The first round in both the men’s and women’s events at the French Open has come to a close and already there have been some major casualties and some perilous escapes. The two notable victims came on the women’s side, particularly in No. 3 seed and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber being ousted in straight sets on Tuesday by Dutchwomen Kiki Bertens, ranked 58 in the world. Also bowing out on Tuesday was fifth seed Victoria Azarenka, who pulled out with a knee injury when 4-0 down to Karin Knapp in the final set of their first-round match.
The Australian Open earlier this year saw 12 seeds in the women’s draw eliminated in the first round, the most since Grand Slams switched to 32 seeds in 2001. While the French Open hasn’t quite matched that tally, it has still seen nine seeds bite the dust. Included among those are former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic and last year’s U.S. Open runner-up Roberta Vinci.
But the woman Vinci famously beat in the semifinals in New York, Serena Williams, comfortably made her way through to round two. Williams, the top seed and strong favorite to take the title at Roland Garros, beat Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova for the loss of two games and will now meet Brazil’s Teliana Pereira, currently at No. 81 in the rankings.
The player thought to be Williams’ greatest threat to the title, No. 6 seed and runner-up in Paris two years ago Simona Halep, matched the world No. 1 in easing into round two after losing just two games. Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska achieved the same feat to get through the opening hurdle.
On the men’s side, the player currently residing at No. 3 in the rankings, Roger Federer, did not even make it to the first round, having withdrawn because of a back injury. While the opening round didn’t witness the same carnage as the women’s draw, 10th seed and 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is heading home early after losing to qualifier Marco Trungelliti. Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson also lost out, with the 18th seed ousted in four sets by Stephane Robert.
To the likely relief of nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, 32nd seed Fabio Fognini is also no more. The Italian, who beat Nadal in the U.S. Open last year, was seeded to meet the Spaniard in the third round in Paris, but was upset by veteran Marcel Granollers.
It was a very different story for Nadal, who eviscerated big-serving Australian Sam Groth for the loss of just three games and only five points on his own serve. Nadal, bumped up to fourth seed because of Federer’s withdrawal, has returned to form in recent weeks and is looking to win an unprecedented 10th French Open title.
His biggest threat to landing the crown is unquestionably Novak Djokovic, who got the better of Nadal in the quarterfinals last year. Despite winning 11 Grand Slams, including four of the last five, the world No. 1 has yet to add the French Open to his collection. A defeated finalist in three of the last four years, Djokovic will expect far more strenuous challenges than he faced in the first round, when breezing past Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets.
It was a far less serene experience for the man currently sandwiched by Djokovic and Nadal in the betting odds. No. 2 seed Andy Murray required two days and five sets to overcome tricky Czech veteran Radek Stepanek. Having fought back from two sets to love down, Murray was then twice two points away from elimination in the fifth set before coming through 7-5 in the decider.
There was a similar scare for defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who had to came from two sets to one down to beat another Czech, Lukáš Rosol.
Men’s title betting odds (via Oddschecker)
Novak Djokovic – 4/5
Andy Murray – 7/2
Rafael Nadal – 4/1
Stan Wawrinka – 12/1
Kei Nishikori – 20/1
Dominic Thiem – 40/1
Milos Raonic – 50/1
Nick Kyrgios – 66/1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 100/1
David Ferrer – 100/1
Women’s title betting odds
Serena Williams – 6/4
Simona Halep – 5/1
Garbiñe Muguruza – 9/1
Petra Kvitova – 18/1
Madison Keys – 20/1
Timea Bacsinszky – 25/1
Agnieszka Radwanska – 33/1
Sloane Stephens – 33/1
Lucie Safarova – 33/1
Carla Suárez Navarro – 33/1