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Three To See, Day 3: Azarenka and Andreescu, Monfils and Baez face off; Andreeva, 16, arrives in Paris
What do you believe in? Youth or experience? Ranking or form? Keep these questions in mind during Tuesday's three must-see matches.
Published May 29, 2023
Interview in Paris: 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva brings it at the Tennis Channel desk
Victoria Azarenka vs. Bianca Andreescu
There’s a lot of career water under the bridge with these two oft-injured Grand Slam champions. Both have scaled the mountaintop and come back down to earth multiple times. In a way, the 33-year-old Azarenka could be a model for the 22-year-old Andreescu when it comes to perseverance and getting back up when you’ve been knocked down. This season Vika reached the Australian Open semifinals a full decade after she last won the title there.
The one thing these two haven’t done yet is play each other. Azarenka is currently ranked 18th; Andreescu is 42nd. Neither is a clay-courter of much note, but Azarenka has had more success in Paris; she’s made a semifinal and two quarters, while Andreescu hasn’t been past the second round in three tries. In fact, the former world No. 4 hasn’t been past the fourth round at any major since she won the US Open in 2019.
There’s probably a future for Andreescu eventually, but Azarenka is the better player right now. Winner: Azarenka
Mirra Andreeva vs. Alison Riske-Amritraj
The differences between these two are more than clear. Andreeva is 16, Riske-Amritraj is 32. Andreeva spent the spring piling up clay-court wins, and two titles in Switzerland on the ITF circuit. Riske-Amritraj is 1-7 on the season and will be playing her first match on dirt. Her career record at Roland Garros is just 2-8.
What do you believe in? Youth or experience? Ranking—Riske-Amritraj is 58 spots higher than Andreeva as of today—or form?
Andreeva, who won three qualifying matches to get here, is just learning how to play at this level. But she should have more confidence in her game, and feel more comfortable on this court, than Riske-Amritraj does now. Winner: Andreeva
UPDATE: Andreeva wins, 6-2, 6-1
Some of the lopsided match stats:
- Andreeva won 89% of her second-serve points—16 of 18—compared to Riske's 36%
- Riske-Amritraj also won just 36% of her first-serve points
- Andreeva broke serve five times in six chances
- Riske-Amritraj won 10 of 41 receiving points (24%)
- Winners: 20 for Andreeva, 7 for Riske-Amritraj
Gael Monfils vs. Sebastian Baez
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau, Gilles Simon: All of them have called it quits at Roland Garros in recent years. Monfils, 36, would seem to be due for his final hurrah as well, but so far he says he’ll soldier on. Either way, there will be a swan-song atmosphere during this evening session in Chatrier, as one of the most entertaining and acrobatic players in French tennis history tries to turn back the clock.
It won’t be easy. Since returning to the tour at Indian Wells, Monfils is 1-6, is currently ranked 394th, and is giving up 14 years to the 42nd-ranked Baez. The Argentine is just 5-foot-7, but his gritty, don’t-give-anything-away game is made for clay.
Still, Baez will need to do more than just make balls to win in this atmosphere. He’ll probably want to temper his normally rampant fist-pumping, so as not to annoy the locals. Whatever he does, though, they’ll be fully against him from the beginning. Winner: Baez