By Alex Botoman
The first round of Roland Garros is nearly in the books, and Americans John Isner, Sam Querrey, Donald Young and Jack Sock, all previous Winston-Salem Open competitors, won comfortably to secure their spot in the second round.
More impressive than the wins was the style in which they came. Isner, Querrey and Young all took care of business in straight sets while Sock jumped out to a 5-0 lead on 22nd-ranked Nicolas Almagro before the Spaniard, plagued by a foot injury, had enough and retired.
Despite being a straight-setter, Isner’s first round match was far from uncompetitive. The two-time Winston-Salem Open champion had to use his big serve to battle past French wild card Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 7-5. Next up for Isner is a first-ever meeting with Russian Mikhail Kukushkin. Kukushkin, who is only 6-15 on tour this year, beat Nicolas Mahut in the first round.
Querrey played some of his best tennis of the year in the first round to cruise past Italian clay court specialist Filippo Volandri 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-3 and setup a match with Dmitry Tursunov in the second round. The two last squared off in Brisbane in January with Querrey coming away with a straight set win.
Of all the Americans to win in the first round, perhaps the biggest surprise was Donald Young. Young entered the tournament with a 3-13 career record in tour level matches on clay courts though he has quietly had some success on clay this spring on the ITF Pro Circuit. His dominating 6-1, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over Dudi Sela in Paris turned some heads though he will be hard-pressed to make a deeper run with talented Spaniard Feliciano Lopez up next.
With Sock defeating a seed in the first round, albeit by retirement, the draw has opened up a bit for him. Up next will be the winner of the match between American Steve Johnson and French teenager Laurent Lokoli with no potential matches against seeded players looming until the Round of 16.
One first round match remains to be finished, and it’s the one between Johnson and Lokoli. After dropping the first two sets to the French qualifier, Johnson caught fire to take the next two and held a 3-1 lead in the fifth set when play was suspended due to darkness. He will try to close things out and become the fifth American in the second round Wednesday.