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Unexpected Exits – French Open 2021 First Round Review

Iga Swiatek & Rafael Nadal


Action at Roland Garros 2021 kicked off on Sunday, and the 3-month wait for Grand Slam tennis was well worth it. The first round was as eventful as ever, with shocking upsets and a controversy, which divided opinions across the globe.

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The biggest upset was undoubtedly Dominic Thiem’s first round exit at the hands of Pablo Andújar. The world number four was another big name victim of the Spaniard, who defeated Roger Federer just a few weeks ago. The world number 68 defeated Thiem in a thrilling comeback after being two sets down, to take it 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. 

Rafael Nadal began his title defence against the young Australian Alexei Popyrin and as you would expect from the King of Clay, it was a comfortable straight sets victory, winning it 6-3, 6-2, 7-6.

World number one, Novak Djokovic also followed suit and defeated Tennys Sandgren with ease in the first night match at Roland Garros, winning in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

It was also a popular and comfortable return to Grand Slam tennis for Swiss maestro, Roger Federer, after a shaky start to his 2021. The world number eight won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 against Denis Istomin, keeping his perfect record against him intact.

Alexander Zverev had a major scare being two sets down against fellow countryman Oscar Otte. The world number six managed to dig deep and pull through in the end though winning, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas took on Frenchman Jérémy Chardy and it was a confident start for the fifth seed, winning in straight sets 7-6, 6-3, 6-1. 

Home favourites Gaël Monfils and Richard Gasquet both made their way through to the 2nd round with ease but it wasn’t the same story for the other big Frenchman, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who lost to Japan’s rising star Yoshihito Nishioka, losing 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-7.


Naomi Osaka’s sudden withdrawal from the French Open took everyone by surprise. Osaka announced last week that she will not attend any press conferences due to anxiety and fragile mental health but the media boycott did not sit well with the French Open organisers and she was fined $15,000 after her first-round victory over Patricia Tig as she attend her post-match press conference. The Four Grand Slams also issued a joint statement regarding Osaka’s media boycott, saying she could face suspension from future majors if she continued in this manner. The four-time Grand Slam winner then announced her withdrawal via twitter, stating, “The best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.” Her decision to withdraw garnered a lot of praise and agreement from fellow tennis players, sportsmen and fans including Serena Williams, Mo Farah, Steph Curry and Lewis Hamilton. She did not state a date of return, but she mentioned she was willing to work with the Tour to reach an agreement in order to make things better for players, the press and fans.

Back on the courst, defending champion Iga Światek began her title defence by comfortably beating Kaja Juvan 6-0, 7-5.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty also managed to qualify for the second round but it was not the simplest outing. The Australian’s match against Bernarda Pera went into a deciding third set where she managed to overcome her opponent and win, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

World number three Aryna Sabalenka defeated Ana Konjuh, 6-4, 6-3 to make it safely through to the second round while Serena Williams powered her way past Romanian, Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2. 

The Second Round of the French Open is perfectly set up following the exciting Tennis which was on display in the opening round and we are certainly sure the next round of action will carry more unpredictability that we’re used to witnessing on the clay at Roland Garros.