Rain disrupts first day at French Open

Israel’s Sela among those who will resume play today, trailing Brown 2-1 in sets in the first round.

Israel’s Dudi Sela will be targeting his 20th career title on the Challenger circuit in today’s final in Shenzhen, China. (photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ITA)
Israel’s Dudi Sela will be targeting his 20th career title on the Challenger circuit in today’s final in Shenzhen, China.
(photo credit: NIR KEIDAR/ITA)
Dudi Sela’s bid to reach the second round at Roland Garros for just the third time in his career will enter its second day on Monday after his match with Dustin Brown in the opening round had to be suspended on Sunday due to the wet weather in Paris.
Sela, ranked No. 62 in the world, trails Brown (117), who came through the qualifiers 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5), with the score in the fourth set tied at 1-1. Sela was trailing 15-40 on his serve in the third game when play had to be stopped for the day.
The match, which began in the early afternoon, was earlier stopped for over three-and-a-half hours with the score tied at 4-4 in the third set.
Sela is the lone Israeli in the singles tournaments at Roland Garros, with Amir Weintraub and Julia Glushko both coming up short in the qualifiers last week, while Shahar Pe’er is out injured.
Among those who managed to complete their matches on Sunday was Australian Nick Kyrgios, who did his best to enliven a damp and dismal Parisian day with eye-catching play and habitual rants.
The volatile 17th seed mainly let his racket do the talking during an impressive 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6), 6-4 defeat of Italian debutant Marco Cecchinato, although he did receive a code violation for snapping at a ball boy in the first set.
Women’s 10th seed Petra Kvitova was another early starter and was nearly sent packing in the opening skirmish on Philippe Chatrier Court, the twice Wimbledon champion coming within a game of defeat by Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
She eventually won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours 16 minutes watched by ticket holders wrapped up in colorful anoraks and with a multitude of umbrellas primed for action.
Long lines of fans formed outside Roland Garros as security was visibly beefed up in light of November’s deadly attacks in the city and once inside the historic grounds there was a feeling that things were not quite where they should be.
Three courts, numbers seven, nine and 11, which used to flank the Chatrier showcourt, have disappeared, replaced by a muddy hole in the ground - the start of a controversial re-development that will include a new stadium court by 2020.
Leafing through their programs the fans would also have noticed the name of Roger Federer absent from the men’s draw for the first time since 1998 after the Swiss 17-times Grand Slam champion withdrew injured.
With rain dogging players and spectators throughout, an anti-climactic opening day was called off at around 6.30 p.m. local time with only 10 of the 32 scheduled matches completed.
At least Kyrgios, enjoying a consistent year which hints at a more level-headed approach, provided some entertainment for those huddled together on Court One.
The volatile 21-year-old fired down 17 aces and fended off two set points in the second-set tiebreak before dispatching 124th-ranked Cecchinato and setting up a second-round clash with Dutch lucky loser Igor Sijsling.
The match was not without some of the outbursts that have made Kyrgios one of the most talked-about players on Tour.
Towards the end of the first set he barked at a ballboy and was warned by umpire Carlos Ramos.
A code violation for saying ‘towel’ loud?” Kyrgios said in a fiery exchange with Ramos.
“Now I’ve seen it all. That’s bullshit... are you kidding?” There was a maturity about his display though and he produced his best tennis when he needed it - saving one set point with a nonchalant drop shot before taking control.
Kvitova, a semifinalist in 2012, began confidently in light drizzle that followed the torrential early-morning rain, but from a position of strength got bogged down on the damp clay.
Kovinic served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but Kvitova roused herself to rattle off three games in a row.
Home favorite Benoit Paire, one of 16 Frenchman to start in the main draw, produced a topsy-turvy display against Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot before winning in five sets.
Reuters contributed to this report