Tennis greats Roger Federer and Serena Williams open play Sunday in first round action at the French Open. The season’s second major is also the only one that starts on the Sunday, and this opening day schedule is chock full of goodness.
Joining Federer and Serena are Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Gilles Simon who faces former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.
But all eyes will be on the return of 2009 champion Roger Federer. The Swiss who just reached the finals in Rome losing the Rafael Nadal, faces another Spaniard and perhaps one who’ll replace Rafa as the top man in his country someday. Pablo Carreno Busta makes his Grand Slam debut. The 21-year-old who won 35 straight matches during a torrid 7-title Futures run earlier this year, qualified and of all people drew the 17-time champ.
Roger should prevail but it will be interesting to see what this new kid has to offer. And who knows, Federer’s last first round loss at a Slam came at the French Open 10 years ago.
Serena, who last won in Paris in 2002, and is looking to make amends for a shock first round loss to Virginie Razzano a year ago. The Frenchwoman was a former Top 20 player and had some game, unlike Serena’s Sunday foe Anna Tatishvili. This is Serena’s event and she’s not going to falter this early.
Ferrer, a semifinalist a year ago, draws Australian Marinko Matosevic. Another Australian, Lleyton Hewitt, is likely playing out his final year of service against the steady Gilles Simon. If Lleyton is back in form it could be quite a long match, otherwise Simon should advance briskly.
A host of big servers will test their games on what could be soggy, slow courts. Sam Querrey, Milos Raonic, Kevin Anderson and Sabine Lisicki all can bring some heat and each is favored to win, but will it translate on the clay?
Also, veterans Venus Williams and James Blake return as does 2012 finalist Sara Errani. Plus 16-year-old Donna Vekic makes her French Open debut against Stanford’s Mallory Burdette.
But if it stays cold and wet, I’m most interested in seeing how Roger goes against this dangerous youngster. Anyone who can win 35 straight matches and hails from Spain has some game, but can he hold it together against the greatest of all time on the biggest stage on clay tennis? We’ll find out in a short bit.
FRENCH OPEN SUNDAY SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start Time
Petra Martic (CRO) v. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Serena Williams (USA) v. Anna Tatishvili (GEO)
Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
Steve Darcis (BEL) v. Michael Llodra (FRA)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start Time
Arantxa Rus (NED) v. Sara Errani (ITA)
Gilles Simon (FRA) v. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Marinko Matosevic (AUS) v. David Ferrer (ESP)
Urszula Radwanska (POL) v. Venus Williams (USA)
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