-- Rafa through in straights against 18 year-old ingénue Gianni Mina - or “Baby La-Monf” as he’s come to be known.
The 2-2-2 scoreline doesn’t do justice to the athleticism and shotmaking that made up this match. Ultimately, however, Baby La-Monf’s inability to make good on a single one of a staggering seven break points, as well as to hold on to his own serve, decided it's course.
Never say no to French Flair, though I’d be more accepting of the parallels with Monfils if I end up liking him for the parts he leaves out.
-- Roddick pulled off a five set turnaround of his own against Finland’s Jarko Nieminen.
A fascinatingly low-brow match that demonstrated why I’m rapidly losing patience with A-Rod’s alleged aversion to clay. Seems to me he plays as well as he might on any slow hard court, when he puts his mind to it.
-- Henin, Shaza both through in straights.
Didn’t see either match – Shaza appears to have served well and both mustered up a healthy positive winners/UFE ratio. More important than all of that, however, is that they survived the first round. Don’t pretend any of that was assured.
Don’t look now, but Ana won her opener too.
-- Dinara, on the other hand, ousted in three at the hands of veteran Kimiko Date Krumm.
It’s probably not instructive to comment on what exactly brought her downfall – we all know that serving’s a big part of it.
She’s also, much to the relief of many, parted ways with Zeljko Krajan.
Q. You separated with your coach, I hear. You want to talk a little bit about that? I know he was important to you.
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah. After Madrid I took a decision to stop. I mean, definitely he did the best job than everybody could make with me. He brought me to No. 1 in the world. I mean, not him. Together we came together to No. 1.
But I decided that I wanted to stop, and that's it. I won't say anything.
Q. Was it getting too intense or...
DINARA SAFINA: I don't want to comment anything else.
Q. Maybe another voice...
DINARA SAFINA: I don't want to comment more than this.
Q. So it's difficult for you today, but are you optimistic long‑term for your future?
DINARA SAFINA: Yeah. You know, I am for sure I will not give up. You know, I will have to swallow this loss and keep on moving. I mean, there is nothing more than this, you know.
I was in the worst situations, and I mean, that's life. After rain, always sun comes. I will do my best.
Whatever it is that makes Coach-Player partnerships work, seems for the most part, an intangible business, whatever the populist self-help manuals may have to say about it.
If a match up works well, as it did in this case for the best part of a year, then it seems to me that it ought to be left well alone, however unpalatable it may be to those on the outside.
That she’s recognised the partnership has run it’s course is encouraging too.
Highly disappointing result of course, something which only time will heal. One can only hope she'll remain as optimistic in her weather forecasting when, two weeks from now, she finds herself in the lower dregs of the top twenty.
-- Federer’s three set dismissal of Aussie Peter Luczak was everything the Madrid final wasn’t.
There was big serving, short-angled backhand passes taken on the rise, but surely nothing so spectacular as a sliding drop shot put-away that had the commentary team eating out of his hands.
So when Luczak’s thickly accented ‘sorry-maaite’ was carried by the wind through the stadium after a number of misdirected tosses -- reminiscent of Rafter as it was -- it seemed more an apology at holding up the exhibition of breezy brilliance before us.
-- Resisting the urge to get drawn into all the humourless chatter surrounding Venus’s outfit.
It’s not one I have to resist very hard.
-- Nicolas Mahut won his first ever match at RG in eleven attempts.
With so much talk of clay-court specialism it’s somewhat encouraging to know that 1) grass-court specialists exist as an independent and low-cost TMF alternative too, and 2) that they suffer much of the same adaptive problems as their clay court counterparts.
Think of him as the Nicolas Lapenti of grass.