WATCH: The footwork of Serena Williams, in ASMR video

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

Serena Williams vs. Elena Rybakina

Serena will be on Court Phillipe Chatrier a few hours after Azarenka and Pavlyuchenkova come off it. The American will see a new face across the net from her in Rybakina, a 21-year-old Russian currently ranked No. 22 in the world. Serena, who hasn’t been past the fourth round at Roland Garros in five years, didn’t start out on many people’s short lists of title contenders. But she’s there now. While the top three seeds, Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka, and Aryna Sabalenka, have dropped out of the running, Serena has picked up speed.

Rybakina should give her a tougher test, though. The Russian was on a roll before the pandemic, but has had trouble pushing the restart button in 2021. At 6’0, with ground-stroke power to match, she should be able to stay with Serena from the baseline. But Serena has been pushed a few times already in Paris; so far, she has pushed back successfully. As Serena said of her younger opponents earlier this week: “They have nothing to lose. They just are hitting lines. You have to just realize that you can hit the lines, too.” Winner: S. Williams

Daniil Medvedev vs. Cristian Garin

Was Medvedev hustling all of us this spring, when he constantly complained about much he hates clay? He has sung a different tune so far in Paris: He likes the light balls, the warm weather, and the faster pace of play that results. Medvedev has played two potentially tricky, big-serving opponents in Reilly Opelka and Alexander Bublik, but he didn’t drop a set against either. Now, in Garin, he’ll face a traditional South American dirt-baller. Can the sometimes-irritable Russian make the adjustment to long, draining, and possibly frustrating rallies?

Garin got the better of Medvedev in three sets when they played in Madrid last month, and these conditions would seem to favor the Chilean even more. But Medvedev looks like he’s on a mission to prove how well he can play on this surface, and how far he can go at another major. Winner: Medvedev

Azarenka leads their head to head 5-1, and Pavlyuchenkova’s only victory came when Vika retired down a set and 0-3.

Azarenka leads their head to head 5-1, and Pavlyuchenkova’s only victory came when Vika retired down a set and 0-3.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

The Russian and the Belarusian have been playing each other since 2009, and for the most part the Belarusian has been winning. Azarenka leads their head to head 5-1, and Pavlyuchenkova’s only victory came when Vika retired down a set and 0-3. But they’ve had their share of tight matches, including two on clay; Azarenka won one of them in three sets, and the other in two tiebreakers. Most of those contests were well in the past, though, and both women look to be in equally good form right now. Azarenka is coming off a convincing 6-2, 6-2 win over Madison Keys, while Pavlyuchenkova was even more impressive in knocking out one of the pre-tournament favorites, Aryna Sabalenka, 6-0 in the third set. Pavlyuchenkova is the more relentless hitter, and the result may largely rest on her racquet, and its accuracy. Azarenka is the better mover, and has more options in her repertoire. She also won’t want to miss a chance, potentially, to go up against Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Winner: Azarenka