Play at Roland Garros begins Sunday, and tough first round matches are everywhere in sight. Here are some to watch:
Francesca Schiavone vs. Kristina Mladenovic (26): I expect Streaky Kiki to be on fire again like she was last year against Genie Bouchard. If she is, she'll handle Schiavone. But the 2010 French Open champion, if she's having a good day, can still make everyone sit up and take notice. If she sees a weakness in Mladenovic's game, she'll go after it.
Elina Svitolina (18) vs. Sorana Cirstea
Svitolina beware--Cirstea, who just won three qualifying rounds, is more apt to be "on" these days, she likes clay, and unless Svitolina takes charge (something she has trouble doing), the Romanian will be into the second round.
Angelique Kerber vs. Kiki Bertens: This could be the first round draw from hell for Kerber. Bertens is still alive in Nurnberg, and indeed, has a good chance to win the tournament tomorrow. This could deplete her energy, but she's Kiki Bertens, and her energy just doesn't get depleted that easily. If you're Angie Kerber, in the middle of an already up-and-down clay season, Bertens is not who you want to see on the other side of the net in the first round of the French Open.
Johanna Konta (20) vs. Julia Goerges: Konta is pretty much on a roll, regardless of the surface. But so is Goerges, who really likes clay. This could be a very good one.
Laura Siegemund vs. Genie Bouchard: Oh dear. Siegemund had to
work very, very hard to get into the main draw of the French Open, and
she's going to want to stick around a while. She has the clay game to do
it, too. Which Bouchard will show up? Again, this could get quite
Samantha Stosur (21) vs. Misaki Doi: The 2010 runner-up might have her hands full with Doi.
Margarita Gasparyan vs. Sloane Stephens (19): If Stephens decides to mess around here, Gasparyan won't be afraid to provide some consequences.
Lesia Tsurenko vs. Caroline Garcia: On her own, without Kiki, Garcia is fragile, and perhaps even
more fragile in her home country. Lucky for her, the up-and-coming Tsurenko isn't overly fond of clay. Still, Garcia will have to pull herself together.