French Open 2024: Sabalenka, Kasatkina, Mertens and Ruud through – as it happened

Estimated read time 10 min read

Otherwise, thanks all for your company and see you tomorrow at 10am BST.

That, then, is us for the day, so before we depart, a rundown of where we’re up to: Keys leads Zarazua 6-3 1-0; Goffin leads Mpetshi Perricard 4-6 6-4 1-0; Mannarino leads Zeppieri 5-3; Navarro leads Sonmez 4-2; and Mirra Andreeva leads Bektas 2-1 with a break.

Evans makes 15-all, then Rune plays a backhand in response to a deep slice, the ball flicking the tape and flying out. Rune, though, responds with a decent serve on to the T then, after Evans retrieves well, he hammers down an overhead for 40-15, a return drops wide, and that’s a 6-4 set for the 13 seed.

I mentioned earlier that Mpetshi Perricard is going for everything and it’s starting to cost him; Goffin is keeping the ball in play, has won 12 of the last 13 points, and now leads 1-0 with a break in set three.

Evans thinks he’s saved break point with a drop, but Rune flicks it back and the ball dies; perhaps the Brit’s feet were ill-placed. Either way, he trails 4-5 and the number 13 seed will now serve for set one.

Excellent work from Goffin: he holds to love and levels the match at one set apiece.

Less good work from Goffin: his rig, which comes with shocking pink trainers. As soon as I’ve a decent photo, I shall share.

Evans now leads Rune 4-3 on serve and this match is shaping up: both men are attacking the ball with zest and though I suspect the Brit will need to take this first set if he’s to win, he’s got every chance of so doing. Meantime on 14, Mpetshi Perricard leads Goffin 6-4 4-4, but now faces two break points … and the veteran only needs one, a decent volley inciting a shanked forehand. He’ll now serve for the second set…

Zeppieri is, I’ve been advised, a player, and he looked like one at Wimbledon. But Mannarino is tricky, a lefty who looks for angles, and he breaks immediately, now leading 2-1.

Back with Mpetshi Perricard, I can confirm that he’s got something – and not just good tennising, but the kind of competitive charisma that can, if the technique is there and it seems to be, underpin something special He now leads Goffin 6-4 3-2, on serve in the second, and though he’ll probably need to rein himself in at some point – he’s probably too loose to contest the big pots – I very much like what I see.

He meets Lajovic next.

Facing break point, Evans hits hard from the back and eventually Rune goes long; he then closes out for 2-2, while Keys saves break-back point then breaks Zarazua a second time to lead 5-1.

Rinderknech has beaten Walton 6-2 6-4 7-5; Mahac has beaten Borges 7-6 6-4 6-3; and Fritz leads Coria 2-6 6-1 6-2 4-1.

It seems unlikely that, if Madison Keys ever wins a Slam, this’ll be the one, but you never know, and she leads Zarazua 2-1 with a break.

On Lenglen, Rune and Evans are away, Evans holding, for 1-0 while Mpetshi Perricard holds then raises two set points at 5-4 15-40 … and he only needs one, Goffin responding to a thunderous return by sending a forehand wide. That’s three games in a row for the youngster, who wins the set 6-4 from 3-4 down; impressive behaviour.

She meets Avanesyan next.

Next on Court 7: Giulio Zeppieri v Adrian Mannarino. That should be good.

Again, Carle is done by her poor second serve and Mertens meets Martic next. That should be fun.

Oh dear, Carle totally botches a second serve, ball barely reaching net, handing Mertens the mini-break; she leads 8-7 in a race to 10 … but it’s immediately confiscated, exactly what happens to Goffin’s break when Mpetshi Perricard punishes a forehand down the line. He doesn’t wait to be asked – he’s going for everything, all the time.

On Lenglen, Evans and Rune are warming up, while on 7, Mertens and Carle are locked at 6-6 in a second-set breaker.

We resume, Goffin quickly making 0-40; Mpetshi Perricard saves the first two break-points, but the Belgian rides a second serve to power a forehand return down the line for a straight winner; he leads 4-3.

Sake. With Goffin up 0-30 on the Mpetshi Perricard serve, the score 3-3, the rain comes down again. And Goffin isn’t happy, noting that Court 14 is renowned as the worst for handling rain and that it needs to be safe.

It really is crazy how many fine French tennisers we have these days and Mpetshi Perricard looks the biznis. He leads Goffin 3-2 on serve.

Ah, it’s stopped again. Good.

Ach, it’s raining again – more heavily now. So when Evans and Rune show, theirs will be the only match in progress.

Next on Lenglen: Dan Evans v Holger Rune (13).

She meets Stearns or Ciric Bagaric next; currently the former leads 6-3 5-4.

Frech resists gamely, forcing Kasatkina to decue, but she holds nonetheless and now, at 7-5 5-1, is a game away from round two.

For what it’s worth, Mpetshi Perricard is still out there … and whaddaya know, it’s stopped raining, so clay being clay, we’ll back under way in a second.

Kasatkina breaks Frech again to lead 7-5 4-1, then it starts raining again, meaning this is our only match in progress.

Next on Mathieu: Madison Keys (14) v Renata Zarazúa.

That’s a very impressive performance but it gets harder in round two, Munar or Bautista Agut his next opponent.

De Minaur, meanwhile, is serving for the match leading Michelsen 6-1 6-0 5-2, and he too will fancy himself, the highest seed in his eighth Daniil Medvedev.

Martic has now beaten Mladenovic 6-4 6-4 and Rus has seen off Kerber 6-4 6-3, but Mertens, after winning set one, is a break down in set two against Carle, while Blinkova – who beat Rybakina in a belter at Flushing Meadow – leads Cirstea by a break in the third.

I’ve now binned Fritz, level at a set apiece with Coria but up a break, to watch Goffin v Mpetshi Perricard. I picked the latter as my best home hope and since then, he’s won Lyon; the veteran Belgian should be a really good test for him.

Ha! Tomás Martín Etcheverry bought a dog, quite some time ago, which he called Ronald-Garros – and now look. No one will fancy meeting him, and with Ruud being the highest seed in his eighth, the last eight looks a decent and attainable target.

Kasatkina follows her break to win set one with a further break to lead in set two; Frech has work to do, but is playing pretty well. Meanwhile, Fritz now leads Coria 2-6 6-1 1-0 with a break; Martic is serving for match leading Mladenovic 6-4 5-4; Mertens leads Carle 6-3 3-4; Rus leads Kerber 6-4 4-2; and Cirstea has just levelled her match with Blinkova at 3-6 6-3.

Next on Chatrier: Novak Djokovic v Pierre-Hugues Herbert (but in the night session).

Sabalenka thanks the crowd, acknowledging that it’s raining so they had no choice but to watch her; Alex Corretja lets her know that we’re now playing all over.

She’s trying to do well on clay, she says, and also to have fun – which you can’t do if you’re not playing your best. She’s good at drops in practice, she says, and is now able to integrate them into her power-game, making her opponents think.

That was a good match and good first-round test for Sabalenka. She meets Burillo Escorihuela or Uchijima next, while Andreeva will be much better for that contest; I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

Andreeva’s resistance looks to be expiring: Sabalenka breaks her for a second time in the second set and will shortly serve for the match, 6-1 5-2 to the good.

She burns two set points, but Kasatkina eventually holds on to hold and now leads Frech – who’s played well – 7-5. Meanwhile, Fritz leads Coria 4-1 in set two, having lost the first 6-2.

On Chatrier, Andreeva is enjoying herself, still a break down but really leaning into her shots, and when Sabalenka goes long on the backhand, she has a deuce to try and parlay into a break. And have a look! The world number 2 pounds a forehand wide … then lands the exact same shot inside the lines and quickly closes out for 6-1 4-2. The teenager is making her work.

Eeesh, De Minaur has bagelled Michelsen to lead 6-1 6-0 – imagine how much he’s relishing the third – while Frech goes long from the back, handing Kasatkina a break and the chance to serve for the first set at 6-5.

I know Fritz probably thinks clay is for making models, but he’s the number 12 seed so I’ve switched from watching De Minaur to watch him; he’s now a break up in set two.

And the rest of the relevant scores: Frech 5-5 Kasatkina, De Minaur 6-1 5-0 Michelsen, Martic 6-4 2-2 Mladenovic, Mertens 6-3 Carle, Rus 6-4 Kerber, Blinkova 6-3 1-2 Cirstea, Fritz 2-6 1-0 Coria.

Righto, Daniel back in the seat. Andreeva may have broken Sabalenka back, but Sabalenka then seized the advantage again; she leads 6-1 2-1 0-15.

Sabalenka kicks off the second set with a break – but Andreeva isn’t done yet and breaks straight back to level things at 1-1.

Elsewhere, De Minaur leads Michelsen by a set and double break, while Frech has broken back to square the first set with Kasatkina at 4-4.

Andreeva punishes a terrific backhand down the line – she can play – but Sabalenka holds to secure a 6-1 set; she is awesome. I’m now off to do the school run, but stick with us as coverage continues…

Kasatkina breaks Frech for 2-1 while Andreeva is too slow on a booming Sabalenka forehand – the only answer is to shorten the backswing which leaves her facing deuce – and on advantage, a double means she now trails 1-5.

Andreeva has started well, but the barrage Sabalenka unleashes is too much and earns her a break; she leads 4-1.

De Minaur takes the first set off Michelsen 6-1 and he’s another who’s taken big strides this year. I wonder if clay might end up being his best surface too, as it’s where his major strength – scurrying and retrieving – is most useful, and his biggest weakness – not enough power to hit winners – is least noticed.

Frech and Kasatkina are also away now, and I think the latter improved a lot last year. She lacks the weapons – or a a weapon – to compete with the very best in the big competitions, but she remains a very fine player. She sticks Frech in; Frech holds for 1-0.

I am congenitally incapable of mentioning dear Ronald without posting this:

Does Alex de Minaur look like Ian Ronald Bell?

Sabalenka, meanwhile, though not perfectly suited to clay, hits the ball hard enough – harder than any woman ever to play the game, I fancy – to be a factor on any surface. For a while, she struggled to handle pressure, but has since won two Aussie Opens on the spin having also made the US final, and is close to full sporting maturity.

Andreeva and Sabalenka are away, Sabalenka holding quickly for 1-0. I’ve not seen much of Andreeeva Snr – her younger sister was one of the heroes of last year’s Wimbledon aged just 16 – whereas Erika is a sage 19.


You May Also Like

More From Author