Each day, we'll preview three must-see matches from the French Open.

Advertising

WATCH: Hantuchova and Zverev make their RG picks

Sloane Stephens vs. Carla Suarez Navarro

It will be played last on the third show court, and it won’t involve any seeded players, but it may be the must-see match of Day 3. That’s because it will mark the return of Suarez Navarro to the tour for the first time since February 2020. Last September the Spaniard was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma; in April, she finished her chemotherapy and announced, “I’m cured!” Now CSN, one of the game’s nicest and best-liked players, will take the court for the first time. She won’t be favored to win—she’s 0-3 against Stephens—but whatever happens, her performance will be worth celebrating. Winner: Stephens

Rafael Nadal vs. Alexei Popyrin

Popyrin is 6’5”, he uses a two-handed backhand, and he can hit winners from behind the baseline. Once upon a time, we would have described him as a classic Nadal-killer. Over the years, Rafa has lost less often to these types of towering power players, but that doesn’t mean the 21-year-old Australian can’t put his natural skills to good use in Chatrier on Tuesday. These two met in Madrid a few weeks ago, and Nadal won in relatively routine fashion, 6-3, 6-3. In theory, Popyrin should struggle even more in the slower conditions in Paris, and on Nadal’s favorite court. But he made some inroads in Madrid, enough perhaps that he’ll believe he can make even more the second time around. Winner: Nadal

Advertising

Nadal arrived in Paris with a pair of titles in Rome and Barcelona.

Nadal arrived in Paris with a pair of titles in Rome and Barcelona.

Novak Djokovic vs. Tennys Sandgren

Djokovic is 3-0 against Sandgren, but the American did win a set in their most recent Grand Slam encounter, at the US Open in 2018. Sandgren is an explosive baseliner whose game adapts more naturally to clay than most Americans’ do; he’ll make Djokovic hit a lot of balls and do a lot of running. Sandgren is also someone who has competed well on a big stage, at the Australian Open, in the past. There should be some entertaining rallies, and a close set or possibly two, before Djokovic does what he almost always does in the first week of a Slam: advance. Winner: Djokovic

Like Nadal, Djokovic comes into Paris with a trophy in hand, following a triumph at home in Belgrade.

Like Nadal, Djokovic comes into Paris with a trophy in hand, following a triumph at home in Belgrade.