Before each day's play at the 2019 French Open, we'll preview three must-see matches.
The Latvian and the Belorussian have won three major titles between them, but they’ve never faced each other. What better time than in the opening round of the French Open, with a potential second-round match against the top seed, Naomi Osaka, on the line? In 2019, Azarenka has been gradually re-ascending the rankings, while Ostapenko, two years removed from her title at Roland Garros, has been gradually descending them. At the moment, they’re both in the 40s, but it’s Azarenka who has had the better spring: She’s 6-3 during the clay swing, while Ostapenko is 3-6, and has lost in the first round four times. A fifth early exit seems like a distinct possibility. Winner: Azarenka
The 27-year-old Romanian and the 26-year-old Croat-turned-Australian have played just once, on hard courts in Cincinnati last year, and the Romanian won in three sets. So far in 2019, Tomljanovic has been one of the WTA’s modestly pleasant surprises; she has reached a final in Thailand, a semifinal in Marrakech, and bumped her ranking up to a career-high No. 39. That still leaves her well behind the third-seeded Halep, who is making her first Grand Slam title defense. Tomljanovic hits hard enough to put a scare into Halep, but probably not consistently enough to keep it up for two full sets. Winner: Halep
If you like your players tall and South American, and your forehands massive, this is the first-rounder for you. While Delpo is the solid favorite on paper, this match could be competitive. Jarry, a 6’6”, 23-year-old Chilean, has had a couple of very good weeks this spring. In Barcelona, he beat Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov to reach the quarterfinals, and this past weekend in Geneva he made the final, before falling to Zverev 10-8 in a third-set tiebreaker. We know what Delpo can do; among other things, he made the semis at Roland Garros last year. The question is: Is he ready to do it yet? After fracturing his kneecap last fall, the Argentine has played just seven matches in 2019. But the last of them, in which he had two match points against Novak Djokovic in Rome, was one of the season’s best. Winner: Del Potro