Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal reached the French Open third round but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s late-night heroics proved in vain as he suffered his first opening-round loss at a grand slam in a decade.
The Frenchman was on the ropes against world number 91 Renzo Olivo when play was finally stopped at 9.55pm on Tuesday night. Tsonga had just broken back to trail 5-4 in the fourth set and by two sets to one, meaning he immediately had to serve to stay in the match when it resumed yesterday.
But he lasted just one game - albeit a dramatic one. After pulling back from 40-0 to huge cheers from the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier, Tsonga missed a chance to level at 5-5 before Olivo took his fourth match point to win 7-5 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-4.
It was the biggest shock of the men’s draw so far, and a disappointment to both Tsonga, 32, and the French public, as he had arrived in Paris on the back of his first clay-court title in Lyon.
Tsonga was keen to keep things in perspective, saying: “Tennis runs in cycles. There are victories. There are disappointments. Last week I won my first ever clay tournament. And today I lost at the French Open. It’s the paradox of tennis.”
Djokovic and Nadal posted identical scorelines, with the defending champion Djokovic seeing off Joao Sousa 6-1 6-4 6-3 before Nadal defeated Robin Haase.
Title favourite Nadal was the more impressive of the two, hitting 33 winners and denying Dutchman Haase a single break point.
“I think I played a good match,” said the fourth seed. “I was more or less in control during the whole match, so I’m very happy.”
Djokovic felt he improved from his win over Marcel Granollers, although he allowed Sousa into the match in the second set and might have trailed 4-2 in the third.
“In some important moments I was kind of hanging in there,” said Djokovic. “Especially in the third set, he missed an easy forehand to go a break up in the third. It was quite close.
“The way I ended the match and the last couple of games were positive. The way I started, as well. Generally, I felt better than the first round, so that’s exactly what I wanted.”
Meanwhile Serena Williams made her first appearance at the French Open to support sister Venus but Petra Kvitova’s comeback tournament is over. The two-time Wimbledon champion made an emotional return to tennis on Sunday with victory over Julia Boserup five months after she was stabbed by an intruder.
The result was secondary, with Kvitova and her doctors having feared she would never play professionally again, but the Czech was much closer to her best level than had been expected.
Kvitova looked in good shape again early on against Bethanie Mattek-Sands in round two but the American fought back to win 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/5).
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