Commentary

French Open Week 1 highs and lows

Injuries, viral videos, young guns and upsets galore take center stage in Paris

Updated: May 31, 2014, 11:46 AM ET
By Kamakshi Tandon | Special to ESPN.com

The weather has been unsettled, and so have the results. These were a few big topics from the first week of the French Open.

1. Upsets

[+] EnlargeLi
Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty ImagesLi Na was one of a handful of high-profile upsets in Week 1 at the French Open.

Play was barely underway and the top names were already tumbling. No. 2 seed Li Na, the Australian Open champ, was ousted in one of the first matches of the tournament, quickly followed by two outside threats on the men's side -- Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori. The next day, it was men's No. 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka who exited, marking the first time that both the men's and women's Australian Open champions have gone out in the first round at the French Open.

But that was just the start. Next came the biggest upset of the tournament so far, as defending champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams was not just defeated but steamrolled by 20-year-old Garbine Muguruza. Williams had walked on court just before her sister Venus walked off after a three-set defeat to 19-year-old Anna Schmiedlova, having started the match by going up a set and a break.

Also out is No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, the first time in the Open era that the top three women have exited the French Open by the third round. It has left the women's draw full of holes. Maria Sharapova is now the leading name in the top half and Simona Halep the highest-ranked player in a wide-open second half.

2. Injuries

Nishikori's performance was hampered by the back and hip injury he suffered three weeks ago at Madrid, leaving the ninth seed unable to practice properly coming into the tournament. Others had even more problems. Tommy Haas and Nicolas Almagro retired after aggravating their shoulder and foot injuries, respectively.

Not only were a lot of players carrying injury problems into the event but they managed to pick up a few during play, as well. Albert Montanes, Sabine Lisicki and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all retired after experiencing a midmatch injury.

3. Viral videos

A year ago, cellphones were the big thing. Players such as Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Bryans and Gael Monfils whipped them out to record various moments on court. This year, it's video clips, with these moments all going viral in the first few days.

- Novak Djokovic sharing a drink with a ball boy during a rain delay.

- Nicolas Mahut reacting to being congratulated after a first-round defeat.

- Gael Monfils taking part in a dance-off ahead of the tournament.

- Marinko Matosevic's exuberant reaction to his first Grand Slam match victory after 12 first-round exits.

- Monfils again, performing a spectacular dive on the court in his second-round match.

4. The next generation

Another change from a year ago, which saw over-30s such as Haas and Tommy Robredo making headlines with their five-set forays into the second week. This year has been more about emerging names, particularly on the women's side. The two 32-year-olds at the top of the rankings, Serena Williams and Li, were taken out by 20-year-olds Muguruza and Kristina Mladenovic, and 34-year-old Venus Williams lost against a teenager, Schmiedlova.

That was in addition to Eugenie Bouchard, 20, Sloane Stephens, 21, and Alja Tomljanovic, 21, all reaching the second week, while 18-year-old Taylor Townsend grabbed attention by getting to the third round in her first Grand Slam tournament.

On the men's side, Milos Raonic, 23, and Ernests Gulbis, 25, went through to the second week, and 22-year-old Jack Sock and 25-year-olds Donald Young and Marin Cilic also made the third round. In these veteran-dominated days, that counts as a mini-breakthrough.

5. The Big Four

Potential interlopers such as Wawrinka, Nishikori and Dimitrov have all exited, but perennials such as Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and even Andy Murray -- who doesn't like this surface -- are still around, as is David Ferrer, sometimes a Big Four stand-in on clay. None of them have been particularly challenged in the first three rounds, setting up some interesting contests for the second week. Although their dominance is not quite what it was, they are still the tour's most reliable performers.

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