There isn’t much else in tennis that rivals the opening round of a Grand Slam for sheer quantity of excitement. Sixty-four matches, almost all of them a potential storyline in themselves, get under way; as the results roll in, there’s often a feeling of everything everywhere all at once.

So in case you missed them, here are some of the most stirring dispatches from the outside courts and unseeded clashes of the Roland Garros first round.

Paquet seeks to exit Room 101

Perhaps the most surprising result of the first round was Chloe Paquet’s emphatic 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Diana Shnaider. The 19-year-old Shnaider, one of the most promising teenagers on tour, was in hot form after reaching the Rome third round, winning the Paris WTA 125 title and cracking the Top 50. The 29-year-old wild card Paquet had notched just three-tour level wins and one Top 50 victory since 2019, and her season record coming into her home Slam was a modest 15-15.

But the No.136-ranked Paquet pulled off the upset — her second career victory at Roland Garros and first since 2017. And she intends to use it as a springboard for some unfinished ranking business.

Back in the summer of 2022, Paquet spent 20 consecutive weeks ranked between No.101 and No.110, including six at her career high of No.101. But she was unable to get across the Top 100 barrier, and by the following July, she had slumped back out of the Top 200.

She hasn’t given up hope.

“Always the objective of being in the Top 100 one day,” Paquet said after beating Shnaider. “101 is not enough. I can’t say that I was Top 100, so that is still my objective. Since I started playing tennis, I wanted to be in the Top 100. I’ve always dreamt of that. I was very close. I was 101, but it’s not the top 100. I can’t say I’m in the Top 100, and I hope it will be this year.”

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Wang Xinyu adds oil

Unexpected late-night finishes may be controversial, but there’s no doubt they can turn the atmosphere into something special. The fans who have stuck around are the diehards; the players, having waited around long enough, are determined not to have been inconvenienced in vain.

That was the case on the first night of Roland Garros, when the first of many rain-delayed days pushed the last few matches to finish near midnight. The last women’s match on court on Sunday was Wang Xinyu’s battling 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over qualifier Jule Niemeier, who had held two points to lead 4-0 in the third set.

As Wang pulled off her comeback, the match was livened up by the good-natured rivalry between the players’ fan camps. “Let’s go, Jule, let’s go!” chanted Niemeier’s supporters. Every time, they were met with cries of “Jia you!” (“Add oil!”) from the Chinese fans.

Stearns rides the rollercoaster again

When Peyton Stearns slammed home the final service winner to seal victory over Lucija Ciric Bagaric, she turned her palms up and shrugged — a gesture she had made a few times in Rabat last week en route to her first Hologic WTA Tour title.

There, the emotion had been disbelief — particularly after overturning a 5-0 third-set deficit against Lucia Bronzetti in the quarterfinals, saving two match points along the way. This time, it was relief as Stearns nearly found herself on the other end of a comeback.

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The American had led 6-3, 5-3, and held her first two match points serving at 5-4 in the second set. She coughed up two consecutive double faults, and suddenly Ciric Bagaric — a 20-year-old qualifier who had never played a tour-level event before — was right back in it. Strong play from Ciric Bagaric staved off another three match points and edged the second-set tiebreak.

But the Croatian was unable to press home her own 5-3 lead in the decider, and ultimately it was the gritty Stearns advancing to a second round against No.10 seed Daria Kasatkina.

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Uchijima can’t stop winning

Who’s come into Roland Garros on the longest winning streak? No, it’s not Iga Swiatek. The No.1 seed’s 12 victories in a row from her historic Madrid-Rome double still don’t match Moyuka Uchijima’s 19 consecutive wins and counting.

In fact, the Japanese 22-year-old has won 26 out of her last 28 matches — across two different continents and surfaces. At the start of April, Uchijima captured the Zaragoza ITF W100 title on Spanish clay, then went home for a pair of ITF W100s on Japanese hard courts. She fell in the quarterfinals of the first, in Tokyo, to Ma Ye-Xin — and hasn’t lost since.

In back-to-back weeks, Uchijima won the Gifu ITF W100 title, and — transitioning back to European clay with no break — followed it with the Trnava ITF W75 and Madrid ITF W100 trophies. In Paris, she hasn’t missed a beat. Uchijima qualified without dropping a set, and then notched her first Grand Slam main-draw win 6-1, 6-1 over Irene Burillo Escorihuela.

It took just an hour. Uchijima fired 24 winners and dropped only eight points on serve. Her streak may have started in the ITFs, but winning is clearly a habit it’s hard to break at any level. Now, her reward is to take on No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second round.

Tomova notches milestone upset, and some revenge

Before this week, Viktoriya Tomova had lost all 13 times she’d faced a Top 20 player. The 29-year-old Bulgarian had only won three sets across those 13 matches — against Elise Mertens at Dubai 2021, Elina Svitolina at Monterrey 2022 and Jessica Pegula at Dubai 2023.

The Roland Garros draw presented Tomova with some rare déjà vu: the exact same opponent as 12 months previously. In 2023, she’d fallen 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 to Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round, and she was pitted against the No.16 seed off the bat once again.

This time, she was coming into Paris in strong form, though: last week in Rabat, Tomova reached her first tour-level semifinal in three years. The result? A 6-3, 7-6(5) revenge win over Alexandrova that was also Tomova’s first career Top 20 victory. Not only that, but it was her first main draw win at Roland Garros, where she first contested the qualifying back in 2017.


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