The first two days of this tournament have been simply scintillating, with dramatic matches all over the grounds. But Wednesday’s forecast may not allow for any play on the outer courts, as there is a high chance of rain throughout the day and evening. With roofs over Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums, those will be the only two courts with guaranteed play, and where this preview will focus its attention.
Those matches include the second and third seeds in both the men’s and women’s singles draws. However, the most-anticipated match of the day features the 2017 champion taking on a fellow American who has thrilled tennis audiences since the age of 15.
Each day, this preview will analyze the five most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule. Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.
Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Andrea Petkovic – 11:00am on Louis Armstrong Stadium
Muguruza started off 2021 in stellar form, with a 20-4 record. But after suffering a leg injury in April, she’s failed to get her season back on track. Since May, Garbine is only 11-7. And in her career, she’s 0-3 against Petkovic. The 33-year-old German has beaten Muguruza three times on hard courts, though they haven’t met in five-and-a-half years. Petkovic was a quarterfinalist here in 2011, but has not advanced to the second week of Major since 2014. Yet this summer, Andrea has achieved some of her best results in years, reaching two clay court finals. Her head-to-head against Muguruza will give her confidence, though Garbine remains the favorite to advance. Muguruza should be able to overpower Petkovic on these fast courts.
Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Dominik Koepfer – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium
Koepfer represents Germany, but played college tennis in the United States, at Tulane University. And he made his first big impression on tour two years at this event, with a startling run to the fourth round. However, the man who eliminated him in 2019 is the same man he faces today. Dominik nabbed the first set on that day, but would succumb to Medvedev in a fourth set tiebreak. Koepfer also took Roger Federer to a fourth set at this year’s French Open, a near-four-hour affair which would convince Roger to withdraw from the tournament before the next round. So Dominik can certainly test top players, but defeating them in best-of-five is another story. And Koepfer has never beaten a top 8 player in his career. Medvedev’s hard court credentials are well-documented, and he is a significant favorite to advance.
Coco Gauff (21) vs. Sloane Stephens – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium
Both women participated in exciting three-set contests in front of raucous crowds on Monday. In a rematch of the 2017 final, Stephens defeated Madison Keys in a third set tiebreak. A few hours later, Coco Gauff came from a set down to take out Magda Linette. This is a tough draw for both players: Sloane facing a top American opponent for the second straight round, and Gauff getting the champion of four years ago. Coco has been the much better player this season, making seven quarterfinals since February. But she cannot afford the dips in form she often provides her opponents when facing the two-time Major finalist. On Monday, Coco struck twice as many errors as winners. Stephens took advantage of Keys’ errors at the end of their first round match, and it would not be surprising if she successfully did the same against Gauff. The 17-year-old is certainly a future champion, but not until her game becomes more consistent.
Diego Schwartzman (11) vs. Kevin Anderson – 7:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium
The last time these players collided was one of the worst moments in Anderson’s career. Three years ago at Roland Garros, the South African easily won the first two sets, and was serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, when he was broken for the first time. Anderson would not recover, eventually going down in defeat 6-2 in the fifth. That was Kevin’s first loss to Diego in three matches. Anderson has endured a rough few seasons marred by injuries, and is now ranked 77th in the world. He survived a fifth set tiebreak on Monday just to reach this matchup. Schwartzman had a strong 2020, achieving his first Masters 1000 final, and first Major semifinal. While he’s reached the third round or better at each Slam this year, he’s a modest 24-15 by his high standards. Diego advanced much more comfortably in his opening round, without dropping a set. Anderson’s powerful serve and forehand will be rewarded by the speed of these courts, but Schwartzman’s returning skills are excellent. In what could easily become an extended battle, Diego should be favored, especially considering he’s accumulated a lot more wins of late than Kevin.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Adrian Mannarino – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium
What will Tsitsipas have left physically and emotionally after his five set, near-five-hour epic first round against Andy Murray? And Tsitsipas seemed quite bothered, if not downright offended, by Murray’s comments regarding the length of Stefanos’ bathroom break after the fourth set. I wonder if that will serve to distract or motivate the Greek, and how the late night Ashe crowd will respond to him. The good news for Tsitsipas is his opponent also played a five-setter in the opening round. Mannarino came from two sets down to take out fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, in Adrian’s first match since his unfortunate knee injury at Wimbledon while up two-sets-to-one over Roger Federer. These players split two previous matchups in 2019, though Mannarino’s victory came when Tsitsipas retired mid-match. Stefanos battled a leg injury of his own on Monday, so another retirement on Wednesday is not unfathomable. But assuming his knee allows him, Tsitsipas should prevail.
Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:
Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Olga Danilovic (Q) – Osaka has now won 22 of her last 23 matches on these grounds, which includes last year’s Western & Southern Open. Danilovic is a 20-year-old from Serbia who upset Petra Martic at this year’s Australian Open.
Andrey Rublev (5) vs. Pedro Martinez – Rublev defeated Ivo Karlovic in straight sets on Monday, in Ivo’s last match at a Major. Martinez has reached the third round at three of the last four Slams.
Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Tamara Zidansek – It’s a Wimbledon semifinalist against a Roland Garros semifinalist. But Zidansek only has three tour-level wins on a hard court within the last six months.
Daria Kasatkina (25) vs. Marketa Vondrousova – The Olympic silver medalist leads their head-to-head 2-1. And Vondrousova claimed their only hard court encounter 6-2, 6-1, though Kasatkina is a much improved player today than she was when that match occurred in 2019.
Elena Rybakina (19) vs. Caroline Garcia – Their only previous meeting was a doozy. Three years ago in St. Petersburg, Rybakina outlasted Garica in a third set tiebreak.
Barbora Krejcikova (8) vs. Christina McHale – As great as Krejickova has been over the last four months, she just earned her first US Open singles victory on Monday. McHale is a 29-year-old American who grew up in the New York area, and was once ranked as high as 24th in the world.
Simona Halep (12) vs. Kristina Kucova (LL) – Halep overcame an in-form Camila Giorgi in the opening round. Kucova is a 31-year-old from Slovakia ranked 111th in the world.
Angelique Kerber (16) vs. Anheina Kalinina – Kerber narrowly escaped the first round, taking out Dayana Yastremska in a third set tiebreak. But 24-year-old Kalinina is the player who took her out in the first round of this year’s French Open.
Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.
Felix Auger Aliassime Wins First Ever Roland Garros Match In Five Sets
Felix Auger-Aliassime earned his first ever victory at Roland Garros.
The Canadian found himself down two sets to none but fought back to pull off the comeback in a thrilling five set victory.
Felix Auger Aliassime is into the second round of the French Open for the first time in his career after battling back to beat the Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in five sets 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and 14 minutes.
The Montreal native finished the match serving 14 aces and hitting 52 winners in a match that featured a lot of long rallies from behind the baseline.
“It was a dream for me to play here, it was an honor and my first time on Phillipe Chatrier and my first win at Roland Garros and I had to work hard to get it and credit my opponent he played very well today.”
The Peruvian started the match by breaking the number nine seed right out of the gate and at 3-1 managed to turn that break into a double break as he served out the first set with ease.
The first two games of the second went on serve but again the world number 122 seemed to play better as the Canadian looked stunned, searching for answers.
The Lima native once again took an early lead to take a 3-1 lead and again that seemed like enough for the Peruvian as he served out the second set and was one set away from an improbable upset.
The third set is where the Canadian started to turn things around and his groundstrokes seemed to have more precision. At 2-1 it was the Montreal native who got the first break of serve.
After consolidating the break the world number nine was hungry for more and turned that break into a double break and it looked like the match was turning in his favour.
The Canadian served out the third set to send it to a fourth looking to send it to a decider.
The Montreal native rode the momentum from winning the third into the fourth set where after holding the opening service game got the early break once again taking a 2-0 lead.
At 5-3 with the Peruvian looking to stay in the set, Auger Aliassime managed to get another break to win the set and send the match to a fifth set.
The fifth set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the Canadian had four chances to break and at the fourth time of asking he was able to break and serve out the match to complete the comeback.
After the match in his on court interview he was asked about the adjustments he made in the third set to turn the match around and pull off the win.
“I tried to give myself some more space and a little more time, my opponent at the beginning was playing very quick, aggressive, and flat so I tried a couple things and I also served better and after that it was easier.”
The Canadian will next face either Aslan Karatsev or Camilo Ugo Carabelli in the next round.
Ons Jabeur Suffers Shock Exit At Roland Garros To Magda Linette
Magda Linette handed out the first upset of Roland Garros by defeating Ons Jabeur.
Ons Jabeur has become the first major casualty of this year’s Roland Garros after a 3-6 7-6(4) 7-5 defeat to Magda Linette in the opening round.
The Tunisian was one of the most in-form players of the clay court swing having won Madrid and made the final of Rome.
However Linette took the match to Jabeur and played some of the best tennis of her career to stun the sixth seed.
Linette will play Martina Trevisan or Harriet Dart in the second round.
Jabeur made a great start to the match as she broke the Pole early for a 2-1 lead with a good mix of power and variety.
However Linette seemed confident in her tactics and shot-making as she broke straight back, seemingly deflecting everything the Tunisian had to offer.
Jabeur used her experience and great angles though as she improved her level as the set went on, breaking in the fifth and ninth games to claim the opening set.
The Pole went off court to have a medical time-out after the opening set after finding some pain in the upper leg.
Despite the break Jabeur continued to cause Linette troubles with the Pole having to dig deep and save a couple of break points with bold patterns of play.
In the eighth game Linette turned up the aggression and made Jabeur cover a lot of ground as the Tunisian was forced to save three break points in the eighth game.
Jabeur was becoming frustrated and a comfortable straight sets victory turned into a second set tiebreak with the Tunisian looking tighter than usual.
Linette capitalised on this and continued her confident ball-striking and decision making to take the tiebreak 7-4 and force a deciding set.
The Madrid champion lacked a clinical edge and with the rain falling in Paris, Jabeur couldn’t find a consistent answer to Linette’s power.
A break to the Pole saw the Tunisian contingent in Philippe-Chatrier stunned but like the champion she is Jabeur fought back with an immediate break back.
Some big serving in the eighth game fended off another wave of Linette aggression as Jabeur created a half-chance in the tenth game to seal a break to claim victory.
However Linette continued to be bold and was met with the ultimate reward as from 40-15 up, Jabeur missed a smash to give the Pole hope.
That was all the world number 56 needed as Linette converted her only match point with a forehand unforced error from Jabeur as the first shock of this year’s Roland Garros occurred.
A disappointing result for Jabeur given her clay court form and she would have felt she was the best placed to challenge Iga Swiatek for the title.
However Swiatek’s compatriot Linette played the match of her life to seal a place in the second round at Roland Garros where she will play Martina Trevisan or Harriet Dart.
Naomi Osaka Speaks About Mental Health And Lack Of Preparation Ahead Of Roland Garros
Naomi Osaka has a blockbuster opening round against Amanda Anisimova at Roland Garros.
Naomi Osaka has spoken about mental health and lack of preparation ahead of this year’s Roland Garros.
It was this time last year that Osaka decided to withdraw from Roland Garros and Wimbledon due to her mental health after her announcement about not participating in press conferences.
Fast forward 12 months and the three-time grand slam champion is in a good shape mentally as she aims to be back at the top of the sport.
Speaking in her pre-tournament press conference, Osaka spoke about mental health and reflected on her experiences from last year, “I know like after last year’s French Open that the next slam I played was the US Open and they have like these little like retreats or things like that in the players lounge,” the Japanese star said.
“I found it to be a very interesting experience to go to the Olympics and to like walk through the Village and people were thanking me and stuff. So I think athletes kind of all go through the same thing. It’s just like people don’t really talk about it.
“Like when I first came here, I was very worried. I was just kind of worried if there would be people that like — of course I also didn’t like how I handled the situation, but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them.
“But I think like everyone has been really positive, for the most part. Of course I’m still thinking about it, and I’m like kind of also prepping just in case like I go on the court and a fan says something like in Indian Wells. Yeah, for the most part I think I’m okay.”
It’s good to see Osaka in a good mental state as she looks to face her demons and continue to make progress up the rankings.
On the court, it’s been a frustrating clay-court swing for Osaka who faced an early exit in Madrid before withdrawing from Rome.
Speaking in her press conference Osaka said there was no way she was going to miss the event in Paris, “There is no way I’m not going to play this tournament, so like of course you kind of have to manage things, but at the same time, like, I’m going to pop a few painkillers, like it is what it is,” Osaka admitted.
“I have actually played a lot of Grand Slams with something. I actually, Australia, when I played Kvitova, like for five matches I had this really bad back thing. So I think maybe there is a possibility I could play really good when I have an injury, because I feel like I don’t have anything to lose.
“I don’t know, for me I find it a bit ironic, like this clay court season is the one that I spent the most like preparation on, and it was really unfortunate that I had to pull out from Rome and I couldn’t do that well in Madrid.”
Osaka will begin her Roland Garros campaign against the in-form Amanda Anisimova.
The duo met at the first grand slam of the season in Melbourne where Anisimova edged out the match in a last set tiebreak.
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