Before each day's play at the 2019 French Open, we'll preview three must-see matches.
This all-American battle will pit a 37-year-old, three-time French Open champion against a 20-year-old who will be trying to advance past the third round at a major for the first time. Williams and Kenin have never met, and chances are that the younger player will start off suitably intimidated by the older player. I’d also say the chances are good that Williams will put in a clean performance; she improved markedly from her first round to her second, and with all of the high seeds dropping on the WTA side, she must be eyeing that so-far-elusive 24th Grand Slam title. But Kenin is a doggedly hyper-energetic battler, and while she’s just 5’7”, she can handle pace. Still, this probably isn’t the best place for her to go up against Serena for the first time. Winner: Williams
One reporter in Paris said this third-round contest would be notable, first and foremost, for its hair: Osaka and Siniakova do have a striking amount of it. How will it be as a tennis match? The brief history between the 21-year-old Japanese and the 23-year-old Czech favors Osaka; she won their only meeting, 6-4, 6-0, in 2018. Osaka should also be helped by the fact that she has made two dramatic comebacks from desperate situations in her first two matches; even if she falls behind against Siniakova, she’ll know it’s not over ‘till it’s over. Even more important: While Siniakova is a solid ball-striker with a roundhouse two-handed backhand, Osaka is the superior player. Winner: Osaka
Gael Monfils vs. Antoine Hoang
Like Williams-Kenin, this a fight between two countrymen, and two generations. French fans are well aware of the the 32-year-old Monfils, and his many triumphs and tribulations at Roland Garros. But the 23-year-old Hoang will be someone new to root for (and possibly boo, if things don’t go well). He’s ranked No. 139, has never been higher than No. 133, and before this week had never won a main-draw match at a major. Now he has won two—both of them tough four-setters, over Damir Dzumhur and Fernando Verdasco. In his first meeting with Monfils, though, Hoang won’t have the crowd (completely) on his side. Worse news for him is that his countryman, who hasn’t dropped a set in his first two matches, seems to mean business this year. Winner: Monfils