Before each day of play at the French Open, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches. For full coverage of the season's second Slam, go to our tournament page.
Bouchard is back in the news this week. Yes, it’s because of a word she used in a TV interview—it begins with "s"—rather than anything she did on a court, but you have to start somewhere. And this former Top 10 player, while she’s still ranked just 47th, has started to play some decent tennis again. Last week in Rome, Bouchard knocked off Jelena Jankovic and Angelique Kerber. More to the point here, in Indian Wells in March she took a set from Bacsinszky. Still, Bacsinsky, who won that match 6-2 in the third, is the solid favorite in this early-day second-rounder in Chatrier. She made the semis in Paris last year, she won a small clay-court event in Marrakech last month, and she acquitted herself well in Madrid and Rome.
Personality-wise, this isn’t the sexiest match-up in the sport. Neither the Austrian nor the Spaniard was born with a showman’s gene. As far as pure tennis goes, though, there’s a lot to like. Thiem and Garcia-Lopez love clay and play on it as often as they can. Too often, perhaps. This is Garcia-Lopez’s seventh event of the clay swing. While Thiem has “only" played five events, he had to slog his way to a three-set win on Saturday in the final in Nice. But unlike most dyed-in-the-dirt clay-courters, Thiem and Garcia-Lopez are shotmakers with picturesque one-handed backhands, facts that should go over well with the fans inside picturesque Court 2. The 22-year-old Thiem and the 32-year-old Garcia-Lopez have never faced each other, but this is just the kind of stubborn veteran that Thiem needs to beat if he’s going to keep progressing at the Slams.
Thirteen years ago, these two faced off in the U.S. Open boys’ final. Baghdatis was the No. 1 junior in the world at the time, but Tsonga came away the winner that day, and he’s been winning against his former rival ever since. As they arrive for this second-round match in Chatrier, Tsonga leads their ATP head to head 6-0. Some of those contests have been close, but the Frenchman always has a little too much firepower for the Cypriot. Still, even if the match isn’t competitive, these two charismatic characters, who are now in their 30s and in the latter stages of their careers, should make it a crowd-pleaser. Especially if Jo wins.