Sam Querrey hit 10 aces in succession on the way to one of his best victories, against his fellow American James Blake in Indianapolis last year. The strapping Querrey unleashed more of his thunderbolts here at the French Open yesterday, including a 132mph second serve ace, but you had the impression that it would have taken a lightning strike to bring down his opponent. Roger Federer's 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory was more convincing than the scoreline suggested and gave the world No 1 a fine start to his attempt to become only the sixth man to win all four Grand Slam titles.
Federer will know as well as anyone that a victory over the world No 40 is not the moment to send for champagne, but was happy to have cleared his first hurdle here, particularly as rain disrupted play later in the day. "There's always a lot of pressure in the first round of the Slams," Federer said. "I was able to create a few opportunities for myself against his serve, which was good. I thought the match was fine."
It was not quite beauty against the beast, but nearly all the style – in fashion as well as tennis terms – was on one side of the net. Federer was decked out in a smart navy blue number and at the end of the match still gave the impression of a man who had just walked off the set of a photo-shoot, while Querrey's red shirt hung over his broad shoulders like a tarpaulin covering a container lorry.
At 6ft 6in and more than 14 stone, 20-year-old Querrey is a formidable presence on the court. He is not without talent, having won his first title earlier this year and shown a surprising liking for clay with victories in Monte Carlo last month over Richard Gasquet, Carlos Moya and Andreas Seppi.
Against the world's best player, however, there was a gap in class as wide as the nearby Bois de Boulogne. Federer moved around the court with his usual grace and speed and always looked likely to win any rally that lasted more than half a dozen strokes.
Querrey's only realistic chance was to go for his shots and hope that Federer would have trouble returning his serve. Plan A went well enough, but Plan B was in tatters from the moment Federer broke the American in the opening game. The world No 1 secured his fourth of five breaks, at 3-3 in the third set, in particularly contemptuous fashion, stepping in to take a first serve early and crack a blistering forehand winner down the line.
The United States may be the Davis Cup holders, but the fact that Querrey is the highest ranked of their next generation – Andy Roddick, Blake and Mardy Fish are the only Americans above him – leaves you wondering where their game is heading. The other US players in the top 100 are another man mountain, John Isner (No 82), 18-year-old Donald Young (83), who needs to prove that he can convert his junior promise into senior success, and Robby Ginepri (88), who has never properly built on his run to the 2005 US Open semi-finals.
France has 13 players in the top 100, but getting them on to court is another matter. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the French No 2, pulled out on Saturday with a knee injury, which was the same reason given by Gasquet when he withdrew shortly before his first match yesterday. The French No 1 did not endear himself to home fans when he refused to play a vital Davis Cup rubber in the United States recently, citing injury, and when the news of his latest complaint was relayed to spectators waiting to see him on Court Suzanne Lenglen it was greeted by boos.