It was a good day for the Australians on day 3 at the French Open.
Ash Barty, Astra Sharma, James Duckworth and Alex de Minaur all had round one wins.
As I write Alexei Popyrin is taking on Rafa Nadal and was down 6-3, 6-2.
Earlier Astra Sharma accounted for Romanian qualifier Irina Bara 7-6(5), 6-2.
Sharma was too solid for her opponent.
In the opening set both players held serve until Sharma broke in the 11th game to serve for the opening set. She would however get broken herself to send the set into a tie-breaker.
The tie-breaker was on serve until at 5-6 Bara lost the point to concede the set.
In the second set Sharma broke to go to a 4-2 lead, she consolidated for 5-2 and then broke again to take the match in 1 hour and 24 minutes.
Ash Barty took to centre court with her left thigh bandaged for her match against USA’s Bernarda Pera.
It didn’t seem to trouble her early in the match and Barty broke in the third game to take an early 2-1 lead. Pera broke back to level at 2-2 before another break for Barty had the 2019 champion at 3-2.
Barty held serve for 5-2 before Pera again broke to stay in the set at 5-3. A Pera hold put some pressure on the Australian as she was serving at 5-4.
Barty raced to 40-0 before Pera hit a winner and Barty had an unforced error for 40-30. An unforced error from Pera saw Barty take the first set.
Barty then lost her way in the second set and Pera was looking good.
The American broke Barty in the second game and then held to have a 3-0 lead. Barty held for 3-1. Barty was not able to break back and Pera took the second set 6-3.
At the end of the second set Barty received treatment.
Games went with serve until Barty broke in the sixth game of the deciding set. Another hold and another break and Barty had wrapped up the match to advance with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory.
“It’s so special to be back. I was disappointed not to be able to play last year, but this court is incredible for me, it’s very close to my heart and it’s very nice to be able to play here in front of fans,” Barty told Fabrice Santoro in her on-court interview.
Alex de Minaur had a solid straight sets win over Stefano Travaglia from Italy. He won 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4).
James Duckworth also claimed victory when he defeated Salvatore Caruso 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.
Getting back to Popyrin. He had a golden opportunity to take a set from Nadal. He was serving for the third set at 5-3.
Popyrin was at set point with the score at 40-30 but he served a double fault. He would recover to have another opportunity to take a set and he had Nadal on the defensive.
Nadal pushed back a lob that was around the service line and Popyrin should have smashed it for a winner. Instead he didn’t get over the ball and he sent it well long.
Nadal didn’t need another invitation to break, he quickly raced through the next few point to break back. Nadal then held comfortably to level the set at 5-5.
Popyrin was now fighting to hold his serve and at least get to a tie-breaker. Popyrin was down 15-40 before getting back to deuce and then Ad.
An unforced error saw the score back at deuce. The game went back and forth before Popyrin finally held serve with an unforced error on the return. The Australian saved four break points during that game.
Nadal then raced to 40-0 as Popyrin struggled to get a return in play. When he did he won the next points. A double fault kept the game alive before Nadal held when Popyrin hit into the net.
Popyrin took the first point when he hit a good wide serve and then hit behind Nadal to hit a winner.
Nadal hit an overhead to force an error for 1-1 and then an inside out forehand winner saw Nadal move to 2-1.
Popyrin didn’t get into position on a forehand and he hit it into the net to give Nadal a mini break. A missed volley from Popyrin and Nadal was up 4-1 and then 5-1.
As the shadows crept across centre court, Popyrin hit back-to-back winners to get to 6-3 but Nadal would close out the match to take a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(3) victory.
What might have been if Popyrin converted one of his two set points in the third set.