Normally, the end of Rome signals the unofficial start of Roland Garros. The first matches in Paris may be a week off, but that doesn’t stop the chatter and speculation from getting underway. This year, due to the pandemic, RG has been pushed back a week, which means there’s a chance for the players to get in another tournament on dirt. Quite a few have taken the opportunity, among them Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Coco Gauff, Denis Shapovalov, and, last but not least, Roger Federer. Here’s a look ahead at the week’s four events, and which players might be able to use this bonus time to their advantage.

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Week in Preview: Serena, Federer lead stars tuning up for French Open

Week in Preview: Serena, Federer lead stars tuning up for French Open

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Parma, Italy

$225,000; WTA 250

Red clay

Draw is here

Parma, a city of less than 200,000 in northern Italy, is finally on the pro-tennis map. The purse is slim, and so is the ranking-points haul, but the event may have the best draw for a WTA 250 this year. Serena Williams alone would be enough to raise its status, but the field also includes her sister Venus, Coco Gauff, Daria Kasatkina, Amanda Anisimova. Sara Sorribes Tormo, Petra Martic, Caroline Garcia, Sloane Stephens, and more.

After looking predictably rusty during her opening-round defeat in Rome, Serena, who is the top seed, will try to get a few more matches in this week. Nothing is likely to come easily, though; she’ll start against either Katerina Siniakova or Clara Tauson.

First-round matches to watch:

Gauff vs. Kaia Kanepi

Kasatkina vs. Su-Wei Hsieh

$600,000; ATP 250

Red clay

Draw is here

Roger Federer will make his 2021 debut on dirt in his home country, one week before playing his first Slam of the season. Federer says he’s excited and motivated, and starting at home will be a nice way to ease back onto the tour after spending most of the past 16 months off it. But clay-court tennis will be a test for the 39-year-old and his surgically repaired knees; he may just hope to get a little match play in before moving on to bigger and hopefully better things on grass. In Geneva, Federer will start against either Jordan Thompson or Pablo Andujar, and the seeds in his half are Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud.

Also here, on the other side of the draw from Federer: Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov, and Reilly Opelka.

$600,000; ATP 250

Red clay

Draw is here

If Parma is the best 250 of the year on the women’s side, the same may be true for Lyon on the men’s. Roland Garros’s postponement has been a godsend for the event, which will feature Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman, Gael Monfils, Jannik Sinner, and Felix Auger-Aliassime among the seeds. Thiem, who only returned from a knee injury last week in Madrid, could use the most work among the top French contenders. He’ll start against either Cam Norrie or Corentin Moutet.

First-round matches to watch:

Auger-Aliassime vs. Lorenzo Musetti

Sinner vs. Aslan Karatsev

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Tommy Paul

Sebastian Korda vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert

$235,238; WTA 250

Red clay

With one WTA and two ATP events, Belgrade has suddenly become a regular tour destination this spring. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the top seed at the Serbia Ladies Open, followed by Yulia Putintseva, Shuai Zhang, and an improving Paula Badosa.

Week in Preview: Serena, Federer lead stars tuning up for French Open

Week in Preview: Serena, Federer lead stars tuning up for French Open