Three to See, French Open Day 8: Stephens-Muguruza; Tsitsipas-Wawrinka

Three to See, French Open Day 8: Stephens-Muguruza; Tsitsipas-Wawrinka

In other Sunday action, two-time French Open quarterfinalist Kei Nishikori faces Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Before each day's play at the 2019 French Open, we'll preview three must-see matches.

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Stan Wawrinka

If Wawrinka is going to return to the semifinals at Roland Garros, he’ll likely have to go through two Baby Feds and one real, grown-up Fed. On Saturday, he made it past the first Baby Fed, Grigor Dimitrov, in a three-tiebreaker thriller. Now he’ll go up against the second one, Tsitsipas, in what feels like the first bona-fide blockbuster of the men’s draw. Big forehands, big one-handed backhands, big personalities—this should be heavyweight fight, but an aesthetically pleasing one. The Swiss and the Greek have never met, and each may come in a little fatigued; they finished their Friday matches on Saturday, and won’t have a rest day. You might think that would favor a 20-year-old over a 34-year-old, but it was Tsitsipas who looked more gassed in the last round. Stan’s boisterous competitiveness, and bolo-punch strokes, could get under Tsitsy’s skin. Winner: Wawrinka

Kei Nishikori vs. Benoit Paire

The middle rounds of the Slams on the men’s side are always filled with matches that feel “like they have five-setter written all over them,” as the saying goes. Nishikori-Paire is certainly one of them. Both of these guys have already won overtime five-setters at this event—Nishikori 8-6 in the fifth over Laslo Djere; Paire 11-9 in the fifth over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Also, the only two times the Frenchman and the Japanese have faced off at majors, the matches have gone the distance—Paire won at the US Open in 2015, Nishikori won at Roland Garros last year. Looking at rankings and reputation, Kei should be favored to do the same thing on Sunday, but this may be—possibly, potentially—a different Benoit Paire than the one we’ve come to know and occasionally cringe at. He’s won eight straight matches for the first time in his career, and so far he seems to be embracing the hero’s role in Paris. Winner: Paire

Sloane Stephens vs. Garbiñe Muguruza

Two big names who find themselves with a big opportunity. Stephens and Muguruza are the only players left in their half of the draw who have reached a Grand Slam final. The Spaniard and the American are also famous for their wildly erratic results, but Roland Garros has been a refuge for them in the past. Stephens reached the final last year, and Muguruza, who won the title in 2016, just recorded her highest-profile win in a while, over Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Stephens and Muguruza have played twice, both times on hard court, and each has won once. Muguruza can be tough to stop when she gets on a roll, but Stephens has just the type of attrition-minded game to stop her. Winner: Stephens

Catch up on Week 1 at Roland Garros on the Podcast: