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  • Writer's pictureStarr Knight

The French Open Day 1: What To Expect

Updated: May 27, 2018

It’s that time of year. The beautiful orange clay made famous by the French Open graces our tv screens once again. Luckily for me, I get to watch the next two weeks on ITV rather than paying the extortionate Sky Sport fee.

Over the next two weeks, I am going to be writing two blogs a day. The first will give you an overview of the day ahead, and what to expect from both the mens and womens draws. The second blog will update you on what you may have missed whilst slaving away at work, dreaming of a Philippe-Chatrier or Suzanne-Lenglen seat amongst the action.

Here is a breakdown of Sunday's matches, and who I think will move into the second round of the French Open.

Mohamed Safwat vs. Grigor Dimitrov

Viktor Troicki pulled out last-minute, giving a 7th lucky loser spot to Mohamed Safwat from Egypt.

Chances will be slim for the Egyptian, but I'm sure he will go out there, and give it his best shot!

My prediction: Grigor Dimitrov in three quick sets.

Alizé Cornet vs. Sara Errani

The 32nd seed; Cornet will face the former top-20 Italian; Errani in the first round. Errani made it to the quarter-finals in Morocco but had poor-form in Madrid and Rome. Cornet also struggled in the tournaments leading up to the French Open.

My prediction: Cornet in 2 very tight sets. She has the home-crowd on her side and this will be a deciding factor.

Lucas Pouille vs. Daniil Medvedev

The 6ft6 22-year old Russian; Medvedev will be looking to cause a French upset as he takes on 15th seed; Lucas Pouille. The frenchman has won both matches against the Russian and will be the favourite for this first-round match.

My prediction: Pouille in 5 sets.

Jelena Ostapenko vs. Kateryna Kozlova

This should be a very easy win for 5th seed; Ostapenko. Her opponent; 24 year old Kozlova hasn’t played in over two months, and comes in as the underdog.

Ostapenko on the other hand, has made it to the quarter-finals of two of the three clay tournaments she has played coming into the french open.

My prediction: Ostapenko in two very quick sets.

Ajla Tomljanovic vs. Elina Svitolina

Tomljanovic managed to make it to the finals in Morocco, and main draw at Rome but Svitolina is coming into the French Open after beating world number 1; Simona Halep in Rome to become the champion.

My prediction: A sub-60 minute match with Svitolina winning in straight sets.

Svitolina is in fine form, and one to watch for the french open!

Benchetrit vs. Gael Monfils

A long-time favourite of mine; Monfils is back, and ready to impress the home crowd in this match against a fellow frenchman. Benchetrit is outside the top 300, and is unlikely to challenge the well-rounded clay-performer; Monfils.

My prediction: Monfils in straight sets unless he wants to hype the crowd. In that case, I’ll say a long crowd-pleasing five setter.

Venus Williams vs. Qiang Wang

Whilst Wang has played 4 clay tournaments to prepare for the french open, it's safe to say she has got one of the hardest first round matches and I don’t think she will be able to outperform the American champion.

My prediction: Venus Williams in straight sets. No question about it.

Ricardas Berankis vs. Alexander Zverev

The talented 6ft6 German will be looking to challenge for, and win his first grand slam. Zverev gave Nadal a run for his money in Rome, and won the previous two clay tournaments in Madrid and Munich.

My prediction: Zverev is in amazing form, and will win this in straight sets. He’s one to watch out for in the second week.

Kurumi Nara vs. Barbora Strycova

Ranked just inside of the top 100, Kurumi Nara is coming into the french open after only playing one clay court tournament this season. Strycova on the other hand, has played four, but not advanced past the first round. Difficult one to call.

My Prediction: I’m going for an upset here. Nara in three sets. Strycova is just not in good clay-court form.

Kei Nishikori vs. Maxime Janvier

The french wildcard; Janvier will have an uphill battle against seasoned pro; Nishikori. Unfortunately, I don’t think the home crowd will have much of an impact on the result here.

My prediction: Nishikori in straight sets.

Johanna Konta vs. Yulia Putintseva

Whilst Putintseva has played four clay tournaments pre-french open... this won’t be enough to overcome Konta. Although... Konta isn’t in great form.

My prediction: This could go either way. I will play it safe, and go for a Konta win in three sets.

David Goffin vs. Robin Haase

The head-to-head for this matchup speaks for itself. David Goffin has won three of their four meetings, and I think this may make it four wins.

My prediction: David Goffin in 4 sets.

Madison Brengle vs. Anett Kontaveit

If you were to look at Madison Brengle results of late, you’d think she's in good-form but she has been playing very small tournaments. Having already beaten Wozniacki and V.Williams in Rome, Kontaveit is going into this first round with a lot of confidence.

My prediction: Kontaveit in straight sets.

Jozef Kovalik vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

It would be silly to bet against a spaniard on a clay court, especially one that comes into this tournament as the 10th seed.

My prediction: Busta in straight sets.

Francesca Schiavone vs. Viktoria Kuzmova

The 2010 french open champion; Schiavone had to QUALIFY for this tournament. A story in the making here.

My prediction: Schiavone in straight sets and hopefully into the second week.

Federico Delbonis vs. Thomaz Bellucci

Whilst they are worlds apart in the rankings, Bellucci was a former top-30 player. They have played each other seven times, with Delbonis winning five of them.

My prediction: Delbonis in four sets.

Saisai Zheng vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Doubles specialist and former top-10; Makarova will be looking to put in a good performance against the 24 year old Zheng.

My prediction: Makarova in a quick, straight set match.

Nicolas Jarry vs. Jared Donaldson

The talented young American had tough first rounds in Rome and Madrid against clay-specialist spaniards. This is a very close matchup and could go either way.

My prediction: I’m going for a five-setter and swinging more towards a Donaldson win.

Oscar Otte vs. Matteo Berrettini

Italy vs Germany. Berrettini will have the upper-hand in this matchup as a higher ranking player, with more experience under his belt.

My prediction: Berrettini in straight sets.

Magdalena Frech vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova

A very close matchup with two young, hard-hitting talents. Frech from Poland, and Alexandrova from Russia.

My prediction: Frech in three sets.

Damir Dzumhur vs. Denis Kudla

Beating Verdasco in Rome; Dzumhur is the favourite in this matchup but Kudla also beat Verdasco in Houston so this could go either way.

My prediction: Dzumhur in straight sets. Kudla is just not experienced enough on clay.

Jennifer Brady vs. Amandine Hesse

Hesse will go into this as the crowd favourite, but chances are that’s as far as she will get. Brady also not in great form, but has much more experience and will likely triumph.

My prediction: Brady in three tight sets as she plays both Hesse, and the french-favouring crowd.

Ivo Karlovic vs. Corentin Moutet

As a wildcard entry; Moutet will have an uphill battle against the seasoned, hard-hitting Karlovic. He may be the oldest player on the tour at 39 years old but Karlovic can still keep up.

My prediction: He's experienced, and as fit as someone 10 years his junior. Karlovic to win in four sets.

Magda Linette vs. Zarina Diyas

This is a very close matchup with not much between them but based on form coming into the french open, I would have to go with Diyas.

My prediction: Diyas in three sets.

Petra Martic vs. Yafan Wang

Martic was always one of those players who hung around the top 50 in both singles and doubles, but never really made an impact on either circuit. Wang comes into the french open after winning some huge matches in the hard court season so it might be a lengthy battle on the outside courts.

My prediction: Wang in three sets.

Martin Klizan vs. Laslo Djere

A former top-25 player; Klizan is climbing back up the rankings, and putting in some good performances along the way.

My prediction: Klizan will win this easily in a quick three-set battle.

Guido Andreozzi vs. Taylor Fritz

Having only been competing on the circuit for three years, 20-year old Taylor Fritz is the favourite in this first-round matchup.

My prediction: Fritz to win in a comfortable four set match.

Alexandra Dulgheru vs. Christina Mchale

A favourite of mine; Christina Mchale hasn’t had the best season coming into the french open, whereas Dulgheru beat Timea Babos in Morocco.

My prediction: Hard one to call, but I’m going with a favourite of mine; Mchale in three sets.

Gregoire Barrere vs. Radu Albot

Barrere the wildcard entrant and Albot the Moldavian 28 year old will battle it out on an outside court. Albot would be the safe bet here, but I’m not playing it safe.

My prediction: Barrere in a long five-setter.

Arantxa Rus vs. Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens has quite a hard first round match against Rus, but as the 10th seed, this shouldn’t be too difficult a task.

My prediction: Stephens in straight sets.

Fernando Verdasco vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

A firm clay-favourite; Verdasco has lost quite a few matches in his favourite surface season but in my opinion, this isn’t enough to deter him from beating Nishioka.

My Prediction: Verdasco in four sets.

Chloe Paquet vs. Pauline Parmentier

A battle of the french, and a very one-sided one at that. The experience will come in handy here, and Parmentier has bags of it.

My prediction: Parmentier in straight sets.

Dalila Jakupović vs. Georgina García Pérez

Qualifier Perez was looking to be playing Bacsinszky but she pulled out with a calf injury. Now facing lucky loser; Jakupović, this match could go either way.

My prediction: García Pérez in three sets.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Danielle Rose Collins

The second seed; Wozniacki will be looking to make it through to the second week at Roland Garros and I expect this to be a very easy win.

My prediction: Wozniacki will barely lose a game, let alone a set.

Keep an eye on Svitolina, V.Williams, Monfils, Dimitrov, Verdasco, Konta, Mchale and Stephens for some great, first-round tennis.


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