With first-rounders that look like fourth-rounders, or beyond, Roland Garros isn't exactly easing into its 2020 edition. Here are the top five first-rounders in France:
Stan Wawrinka (16) vs. Andy Murray (WC) [Murray leads 12-8]
Get your popcorn ready—this isn't just a first-round clash between Grand Slam champions, it's a first-round clash between three-time Grand Slam champions. Murray, a former No. 1, won his three majors at the US Open in 2012 and at Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016, while Wawrinka won his three at the Australian Open in 2014, Roland Garros in 2015 and the US Open in 2016.
They're the only two men other than the Big 3 to win multiple majors over the last 15 years.
They've played 20 times in the last 15 years, and while Murray leads the head-to-head, 12-8, they're an even 3-3 at majors. Murray has won four of their last five meetings, but Wawrinka leads 4-1 on clay.
Coco Gauff vs. Johanna Konta (9) [First meeting]
Gauff is no stranger to tough first-rounders at the majors. She had to play Venus Williams in her opening match at two of her first three majors—winning both of those meetings—and at the US Open just a few weeks ago she had to play former Top 15 player, and 2018 US Open semifinalist, Anastasija Sevastova. At Roland Garros this year, she opens against Konta, the No. 9 seed.
Konta's aggressive game is just as dangerous on clay as it is anywhere else—she's a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist, and one of those runs came right here in 2019. Gauff has done very well on these courts too, though, winning the junior title in 2018. This is her first time playing the main draw.
Dominic Thiem (3) vs. Marin Cilic [Thiem leads 3-0]
The other first-round men's match-up between Grand Slam champions pits a pair of US Open winners against each other—2020 winner Thiem against 2014 winner Cilic. Thiem has won all three of their previous meetings, but they've all been close encounters: a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 win in the quarterfinals of Brisbane in 2016, a 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory in the third round of the Masters 1000 event in Canada in 2019, and a 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph in the third round of the US Open just three weeks ago.
Things got very interesting during their battle in the Big Apple—not only did Cilic have three break points at 2-all fourth set, he earned two more with Thiem serving for the match at 5-3.
"Today was a good win against a great champion, so that should give me a boost," Thiem said after.
Serena Williams (6) vs. Kristie Ahn [Williams leads 1-0]
Like Thiem and Cilic, Serena and Ahn met a few weeks ago in Flushing Meadows—and like the two men, these two women had a fierce battle. Playing Serena for the first time, Ahn came out swinging, jumping out to 2-0 leads in both sets, but Serena bounced back both times to prevail, 7-5, 6-3.
The 23-time major winner's serve was on point, hitting 13 aces to just three double faults, but she struggled with the rest of her game, her groundstrokes producing four winners to 18 unforced errors.
“Kristie really strikes the ball hard. She mixes it up a lot. She plays a lot of the different shots. You don’t really know what to expect," Serena said. "I thought her game was really, really, really good to the point where I had to make sure. I was down a break at one point, so I was fighting for everything.”
This will also be the first time Serena's playing a match on clay since falling to Sofia Kenin in the third round of the 2019 French Open, on June 1, 2019—almost 16 months ago.
David Goffin (11) vs. Jannik Sinner [Sinner leads 1-0]
In one of the most tantalizing first-rounders of the men's draw, Goffin takes on the fast-rising Sinner, who won the pair's only previous meeting, a 7-6 (7), 7-5 victory in the second round of the indoor hard-court event in Rotterdam this year. Goffin was ranked No. 10 at the time, and it was Sinner's first Top 10 win. Last week in Rome, Sinner scored another Top 10 win over No. 6-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Can Goffin, who reached his first major quarterfinal here in 2016, hold off the fast-rising Italian teen?