A first glance at the French Open draw got my attention; a lot could happen in that opening round. Here are some of the more interesting matches:
Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova--Poor Schmiedy, she just can't catch a break. Just over a year ago, Schmiedlova redeemed her flagging career by winning Bogota, but since then, she's gone back into slump mode, which surprises me. Clay is her best surface, so she'll need to bring the very best version of that lovely backhand.
Alona Ostapenko vs. Vika Azarenka: The 2017 champion hasn't exactly faded away, but she isn't playing anywhere near her considerable potential. Azarenka, on the other hand, is looking very good.
Caroline Garcia (24) vs. Mona Barthel: This can't be whom Garcia wants to see on the other side of the net in the first round. The Frenchwoman has picked her game up recently, and she has the potential to go deep at this event. But Barthel, when she's on, can be a real problem on a clay court.
Simona Halep (3) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: The defending champion could also have drawn an easier opponent than Tomljanovic. The good news is that she may get just the workout she needs to put her on the right path.
Aryna Sabalenka (11) vs. Dominika Cibulkova: Cibulkova isn't the threat that she used to be, but these days, Sabalenka isn't the threat she's purported to be. This will be a hard-hitting, possibly interesting, match.
Polona Hercog vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich: This is practically guaranteed to be a match worth watching. Hercog is back on track, and Sasnovich is a player to watch.
Venus Williams vs. Elina Svitolina (9): Clay has never been Williams' best surface. Svitolina is the one with the pressure, though (I assume): She has yet to get past the quarterfinals at a major. I still think that the breakthrough is coming; however, given Svitolina's recent knee injury, the chances aren't that good that it will occur in Paris.
Kaia Kanepi vs. Julia Goerges (18): The German star's fortunes have suffered lately because of a wrist injury. She's vulnerable (otherwise, I would expect her to go rather deep into the tournament). If her wrist is working, she should be okay. If not, giant-killer Kanepi is always happy to make some seed's life miserable.
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