Three to See, French Open: Kerber, Thiem begin bids to gain confidence

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Angelique Kerber has had a rocky clay season, but is looking to gain confidence against Ekaterina Makarova. (AP Photo)

Each day this week, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches at the French Open.

Petra Kvitova [15] vs. Julie Boserup

This year's French Open will get off to an emotional start. In the opening match on Chatrier, Kvitova, who was attacked in her home in the Czech Republic last December, will play her first match of 2017. She and the 86th-ranked Boserup have never faced each other, but it won’t be the tennis, or even the result, that matters in this one.

Winner: Kvitova

Angelique Kerber [1] vs. Ekaterina Makarova

If the top-seeded, possibly-injured Kerber was looking for a way to ease herself into the draw, Makarova wouldn’t have been her first choice as an opponent. The Russian is ranked just 43rd these days, but she’s a former Grand Slam semifinalist and Top Tenner, and she has won four of 11 meetings with the German. But Kerber has won the last three, and if she can make it through this match, she might get the confidence boost she needs to finally leave her clay-court slump behind. In that case, this might be just the opponent she’s looking for.

Winner: Kerber

Dominic Thiem [6] vs. Bernard Tomic

The 23-year-old Thiem and the 24-year-old Tomic have played once, on hard courts in Acalpulco last year, and Thiem won in three sets. The Austrian has distanced himself further from the Australian in the 15 months since; at the moment, the two are ranked No. 9 and No. 41 respectively. Tomic presumably still has the talent, but Thiem is doing a lot more with his these days. He has title dreams in Paris this year.

Winner: Thiem

BONUS: Grigor Dimitrov [11] vs. Stephane Robert

Both of these guys are coming in on losing streaks, neither is a threat to win the whole thing, and they’ve never faced each other at the ATP level. But this match should make fans curious, primarily to see what the state of Dimitrov’s game (and mind) is at the moment. He started the season brilliantly, but has tailed off of late; and squandering five match points against Thiem in Madrid earlier this month is not the kind of loss you get over easily. He has also lost in the first round the last three years at Roland Garros. But Dimitrov has too much talent, and desire, not to turn it around again soon. Right?

Winner: Dimitrov

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