French Open: Roland Garros set for low-key Sunday start

French Open

Venue:
Roland Garros, Paris
Date:
22 May-5 June
Coverage:
Live on BBC Red Button/online (UK only) & text commentary (#bbctennis) on BBC Sport website from 1000 BST; daily highlights programme on BBC Two; updates & commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live/5 live sports extra
Roland Garros
The Philippe Chatrier court will host two of France's home favourites on day one

The 2011 French Open will get off to a low-key start on Sunday, with most of the world's leading players not in action on day one at Roland Garros.

Home favourites Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson both begin their campaigns on Court Philippe Chatrier.

But none of the likes of holder Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer nor Andy Murray are involved.

And, in the women's draw, holder Francesca Schiavone and world number one Caroline Wozniacki sit out the day.

In fact, the highest seed in action on the first day of play on Sunday will be Spanish world number seven David Ferrer, who faces Finn Jarkko Nieminen, while women's eighth seed Sam Stosur, the losing finalist last year, of Australia faces Czech Iveta Benesova in the Phillipe Chatrier court's opening tie.

Those two matches, as well as Tsonga's match with Czech Jan Hajek and Johansson's match with German 17th seed Julia Goerges, will be shown live on the BBC Red Button.

Huge attention, meanwhile, is sure to be on the men's draw once the likes of Djokovic and Nadal get going, with the former aiming to take over from the Spaniard as the world's number one player this fortnight.

Serbian Djokovic's stunning form has been the major talking point of the 2011 season, with his first round match against Thiemo de Bakker at Roland Garros offering him the chance for a 40th consecutive victory.

His run has brought him seven titles, including the Australian Open earlier this year and four Masters 1000 victories, all of which were achieved with final wins over Nadal.

Not that the 24-year-old is overly confident, though, saying: "I don't feel unbeatable, nobody is unbeatable, even though I have had an incredible run that keeps going.

"I've said in the last couple of weeks that I'm really not trying to think about the run, or I'm not trying to think about when this run will end, because that will mean that I'm thinking about losing.

"This is not my priority, not my mental approach. I think it's the right attitude, and it's been going well."

Djokovic and Nadal's rivalry has left 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer as something of a forgotten man.

The Swiss has reached only two ATP World Tour finals this season and has to Jurgen Melzer and Richard Gasquet on clay.

But he remains philosophical, saying: "I have never been the overwhelming favourite going into the French Open because of Rafa [Nadal]'s great record here over the years.

"I think this is definitely a year for me where I can come into this tournament with a little less pressure than the last six or seven years.

"This year maybe more is expected from Rafa and Novak, and that could be a good thing for me and more pressure for them."

Kim Clijsters, meanwhile, will start her tournament as favourite on the women's side of the draw despite having only played one tournament on clay in the last five years.

That came in Marbella last May before a foot problem forced her to miss Roland Garros, and this year's event will be her first competitive action since March after another series of injuries, most recently a damaged ankle.

The Belgian concedes she is not fully recovered from that ankle injury, but says: "I'm feeling good, although it's probably not how I would want to play.

"I'm playing with pretty heavy tape probably until after Wimbledon, and then we will see from there if I can play without it. But I'm happy to be here and excited that I made it."

There was a late change in the women's draw on Saturday evening when 23rd seed Alisa Kleybanova withdrew because of illness.

She was replaced by lucky loser and Russian compatriot Anastasia Pivovarova, who will face qualifier Nuria Llagostera Vives in the first round.

Top Stories