Had third-seeded Nadal lost the match, it would have been one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history. Even merely losing the first set was significant, though, considering that Nadal began the day having dropped only 14 of the 170 sets he had contested at the clay-court major tournament.
The victory improved his career record at Roland Garros to 53-1, the only loss coming in the fourth round in 2009 against Robin Soderling, not incidentally a tall free-swinger.
In other action on the second day, French wild-card recipient Gael Monfils surprised No. 5 seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, while Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, at 18 the youngest player in the men’s draw, made a successful Grand Slam debut by eliminating 34-year-old Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (13/11).
Two US men won to set up a meeting for a spot in the third round: John Isner and Ryan Harrison.
In the women’s draw, Bethanie Mattek-Sands got past Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, part of a 6-1 day for US women that featured wins by No. 17 Sloane Stephens, No. 29 Varvara Lepchenko, Melanie Oudin, Vania King and Madison Keys.
In the only match to finish by deadline at a rain-hit Roland Garros yesterday, world No. 83 Kimiko Date-Krumm saw age catch up with her as the 42-year-old Japanese slid out, losing her opening match to Australian ninth seed Samantha Stosur, while Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun was due to face Italian Simone Bolelli on Court 17 later yesterday.
The veteran Japanese strove as best she could, but was no match for former US Open champion Stosur, who romped to a 6-0, 6-2 victory in just 1 hour, 4 minutes.
It was only in the fourth game of the second set that Date-Krumm finally got on the scoresheet as she triumphantly held serve and broke into a relieved grin, but Stosur, losing finalist three years ago, was not going to allow a possible upset to develop and she promptly closed the door against a rival who at 42 years, 240 days became the third-oldest player to compete in women’s singles in the tournament — Martina Navratilova holds the record at 47, 232 days from her 2004 showing.
Fully 57 players in this year’s women’s singles draw were not even born when Date-Krumm made her Roland Garros debut just a year shy of a quarter of a century ago, in 1989.
Six years after that, she went down in the semi-finals to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and that remains the Kyoto-born player’s best showing in 12 attempts in the French capital.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who won earlier on Monday, next faces Mallory Burdette, a 22-year-old who won on her French Open debut.
Asked what she knew about her second-round opponent, Radwanska smiled.
“To be honest, not much. Nothing at all, actually,” Radwanska said. “I might Google her.”