Three to See on TC Plus: Maria/Garbine, Halep/Kerber, Rafa's next test

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Anita Aguilar

Before each day's play begins in Paris, we'll preview three must-see matches that you'll find on Tennis Channel Plus. Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET. Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime, on-demand, with Tennis Channel Plus.

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1. Simona Halep [1] vs. Angelique Kerber [12]

You remember the last time these two played, right? How could anyone forget? Their Australian Open semifinal, which Halep won 9-7 in the third set, will surely end up among the half-dozen best matches of the year. While it might be too much to ask the German and the Romanian to entertain us at that level again on Thursday, it’s not too much to expect a close and competitive quarterfinal. Halep and Kerber are 5-5 lifetime, and they played at least one other classic, at the Rogers Cup in 2015. Both are also ultra-steady, ultra-speedy baseliners, neither of whom can easily power the ball past the other. Hence their wildly riveting rallies Down Under. They could get even more so on clay. Winner: Halep

2. Garbiñe Muguruza [3] vs. Maria Sharapova [28]

By all rights, Sharapova and Muguruza—both tall, both powerful, neither quiet—should have a classic rivalry going. But they’ve played just three matches, all in 2013 or 2014. Sharapova won all three, but two of those meetings, including one in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2014, were close. In fact, Muguruza won the first set of that match 6-1. Muguruza is also a very different—i.e., better—player than she was then; in the last three years, she has won two majors, while Sharapova has spent the lion’s share of her time serving a doping suspension. 

WATCH—Serena Williams' press conference after withdrawing from French Open:

But now the 31-year-old Russian and the 24-year-old Spaniard seem to be at the top of their games at the same time. On Sunday, Sharapova beat Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1, while Muguruza beat Sam Stosur 6-0, 6-2. Since then, they’ve been forced to play a total of two games combined—Sharapova was given a walkover by Serena Williams a few hours before Lesia Tsurenko retired to Muguruza after 20 minutes. But as good as Muguruza can be when she’s locked in, I’ll take Sharapova’s desire to return to the winner’s circle, and her recent run of vintage play, as the deciding factors this time. Winner: Sharapova

3. Rafael Nadal [1] vs. Diego Schwartzman [11]

Nadal is 5-0 against Schwartzman, and in those five matches the Argentine has won just one set. Yet there’s a part of me that keeps waiting for Schwartzman to give Rafa trouble. No, at 5’6”, he doesn’t have the height or power that’s usually required to challenge Nadal. But he does have an excellent two-handed backhand, and he’s one of the few guys who has the tenacity to stay with Rafa over a long slog on clay. Schwartzman showed that tenacity in coming back from two sets down against Kevin Anderson on Tuesday. Will he have enough left for Rafa on Thursday? Does winning one set qualify as a victory? Winner: Nadal

TenniStory: Rafa's new tennis academy

—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.

—Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime on-demand with Tennis Channel Plus.

—When you buy Tennis Channel Plus, your 12-month subscription gets you access to every ATP Masters 1000 tournament played outside the U.S., and every round through the finals of WTA Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati.

(The availability of matches or events on TC Plus is subject to change.)

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