Commentary

Short stay for dejected Berdych

Updated: May 23, 2011, 7:20 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

PARIS -- This is why they play the games:

Tomas Berdych, the No. 6 seed here and a French Open semifinalist a year ago, won his first two sets comfortably against an obscure qualifier. But, somehow, Stephane Robert rallied to win 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 9-7, setting off a wild celebration among the patrons around Court No. 2.

He pointed at the heavens and bounded around the court as the standing ovation washed over him. That was because Robert is French, born 31 years ago in Montargis. In all that time, he had managed to win only one Grand Slam singles match, but on Monday he doubled that total, authoring the upset of this nascent tournament.

Afterward, Berdych was understandably subdued.

Q: You were leading two sets to none, in control of the match. Tell me what happened. What was the reason for the change, you think?

Tomas Berdych: Well, he won another three sets. I mean, maybe it's too early to just analyze how was that or what was happening on the court.

Well … maybe.

Robert was just one of what seems like a tsunami of Frenchman cascading into the draw, 21 in all, making the French Open as good (or better) than its name; 10 via direct entry, six as wild cards and four as qualifiers. Oh, and Marc Gicquel snuck in as a lucky loser in qualifying after Lleyton Hewitt's ailing hip and foot sent him to Charles De Gaulle Airport for a trip back to Australia.

This was only Robert's fourth ATP World Tour-level match of the season after playing a series of Challenger events. He's ranked No. 140 in the world, but he's through to the second round. So, too, is 22-year-old Maxime Teixeira, who won a battle of French wild cards, defeating Vincent Millot.

The big names -- No. 9 seed Gael Monfils, No. 13 Richard Gasquet and No. 17 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga -- predictably advanced, too.

And now, four more things we know we think after Day 2 at Roland Garros:

The Americans haven't been all that terrible: On Sunday, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Varvara Lepchenko won their way into the second round -- and will play each other.

On Monday, Jill Craybas, who will turn 37 on the Fourth of July, had a tidy 6-3, 6-3 win over Eleni Daniilidou. Christina McHale, who just turned 19, was up 5-0 in the third set against Sara Errani but lost 9-7 in the third. Likewise, Melanie Oudin fell to defending French Open champion Francesca Schiavone. Mardy Fish contrived to lose a second-set tiebreaker by the impressive score of 13-11 but rallied to beat Ricardo Mello in four sets.

On Tuesday, three Americans play in No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal's quarter of the draw: John Isner (who meets Rafa), Sam Querrey and Michael Russell. Ryan Sweeting and wild card Tim Smyczek will also be in action.

The 16-time major champion? Not so bad, either: Roger Federer, coming off that nasty third-round loss to Gasquet in Rome, shut down Feliciano Lopez in less than two hours -- 1 hour, 59 minutes to be exact -- 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Afterward, he complained about the new Babolat balls, which were not used in the clay warm-up tournaments.

This was Federer's 46th consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam event. "I didn't even know what the number was," Federer said. "I'm sure I didn't play all the Grand Slams feeling my very, very best, but at least I scheduled around it. It's a big number."

Juan Martin del Potro isn't 100 percent: After getting past Ivo Karlovic in four sets, the Argentine said his hip was still bothering him. Still, he caught a break when Blaz Kavcic upset Ernests Gulbis in the first round. Should he win that one, streaking Novak Djokovic would most likely be his third-round opponent. "I'm going to play Kavcic before I play Djokovic," del Potro said, "and I don't think about anything else."

Caroline Wozniacki, despite all the shrill complaints about her lack of offense, seems, well, pretty offensive: The Great Dane waxed 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm in her first-round match 6-0, 6-2. The first set took all of 29 minutes. Wozniacki, 20, has spent more time ranked at No. 1 than any other woman who hasn't won a Grand Slam singles title.

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.