Here is a brief summary of Monday, and I mean “brief” because the rain delay forced a late finish, with the last match between Irina-Camelia Begu and Alize Cornet just finishing moments ago, little before 1 AM. The talented Romanian took out Cornet in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.
While there were a couple of close matches, in general, Monday’s action was lackluster, with only a few matches that went to distance or provided high-quality tennis. It almost seemed like the spectators on the ground were more interested in what was happening outside the matches. Let me travel into the terrain of exaggeration and claim that more people watched Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Nick Kyrgios practice than the tournament matches (first two for obvious reasons, the third for the infamous comment directed at Wawrinka during their match last week). See below the crowds at the Nadal and Federer practices, and keep in mind that people on top are watching them practice rather than the matches on the Grandstand. During Nadal’s practice (on top), Gilles Simon and Ivo Karlovic were playing, and during Federer’s (bottom), Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza was busy getting upset by Yaroslava Shvedova.
And here is a panoramic clip view of the crowd for Federer’s practice.
That was not all. There was a man who had everything planned to propose to his companion (named Michele according to the large banner he had made that said: “Michele, will you marry me?”) during Federer’s practice! She did say “Yes,” and he insisted that Roger hears about it!
Fognini practiced for about 5 minutes in front a full crowd, because Federer was still on the court chatting with a youngster and Severin Luthi while getting his stuff together. When Roger left through the door on the other side, the crowd evacuated the stands so abruptly that 3 minutes later, Fabio found himself hitting in front of about 20 people. His clean look did not change his on-court personality much, as he argued with the umpire and gave fans grief during his three-set loss to Kokkinakis in the evening.
As the night settled, Roberto Bautista-Agut who is currently ranked 22, and has been within the top 20 for most of the past 12 months, walked through the grounds and the crowds to the furthest court possible (Ct. 4) to play his match, without anybody noticing him. He played a great match against Pablo Cuevas, another regular top-30 player (currently 36) who is also “anonymous” to most fans. Bautista-Agut won in straight sets, 6-3 6-4, advancing to meet Federer next, in what is guaranteed to be a more “visible” encounter on his part.
Later, Alison Riske and Elina Svitolina played on Stadium 3. The first two tightly contested sets were a pleasure to watch. At the end of 1 hour and 37 minutes (and past 11:30 PM), the score was even at one set all. The promise of a thrilling third set quickly disappeared as Svitolina ran away with the third set (6-0) in less than 30 minutes.
Begu and Cornet were the only ones left playing well past midnight. Tuesday has some explosive matches on the schedule. At 11 AM, there will already be three matches that promise some fireworks. On the Grandstand, two youngsters that are deemed to be an important part of the ATP’s future, Borna Coric and Alexander Zverev (both 18 years old), will battle for a spot in the second round against Stan Wawrinka. On Stadium 3, Nick Kyrgios and Richard Gasquet (remember their epic battles at Wimbledon?) will face each other. On Center Court, the in-form Sloan Stephens will do everything she can to keep the 10th seed Carla Suarez-Navarro out-of-form. Roger Federer vs. Bautista-Agut, Ana Ivanovic vs. Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber vs. Belinda Bencic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Fernando Verdasco, Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Bernard Tomic, Kevin Anderson vs. Leonardo Mayer, and Daria Gavrilova vs. Sara Errani, are some of the other notable matches scheduled for Tuesday. Bring it on!
Note: Watch for commentary posts here and stay tuned to MT-Desk on Twitter for frequent live updates.