Roger Federer (Switzerland) v. Pablo Carreno-Busta (Spain)- Roger Federer opens his bid for a second crown at Roland Garros against the Spanish upstart, 21 year old Pablo Carreno-Busta. Carreno-Busta is a qualifier but should not be taken lightly. The young Spaniard opened up the year winning seven titles in his first eight tournaments, amassing a 39-1 record in the process. Despite these tournaments being at the futures level, winning 39 matches in a row is highly impressive. Carreno-Busta’s success expanded to tour level events beginning in Casablanca, where he qualified and scalped Pablo Andujar before losing to Kevin Anderson. His biggest result of the year came in Oerias, where he made his way through qualifying once again and went on to beat Julien Benneteau, David Goffin, and Fabio Fognini before falling to Stanislas Wawrinka in three sets in the semifinals. Federer has played far less tennis as of late. The world number three comes into Roland Garros having lost to Kei Nishikori in the third round of Madrid in three lackluster sets and Rafael Nadal in the finals of Rome in a straight sets bashing. This is the Spaniard’s first appearance in the main draw of a grand slam and unless he puts on a breathtaking, out of this world performance, Federer should see his way through this match without any difficulty.
Prediction: Federer in three sets
Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) vs. Gilles Simon (France)- Well, if you have any plans for tomorrow, I wouldn’t plan on sitting down and watching the entirety of this match because it could be a while. Both of these guys are quintessential counterpunchers and are willing to stay on the court for as long as it takes. Hewitt and Simon rely on their fitness skills, retrieving abilities, and capacity to absorb pace to win matches. Clay is an optimal surface for counterpunchers like Hewitt and Simon because it makes it increasingly difficult for the opposition to hit through their defenses and allows them to get to even more balls than they normally would because the ball is penetrating through the court at a slower rate. Hewitt has only played two matches since April, losing both of them so it’s safe to say he hasn’t garnered nearly as much match play as he would have liked. On the contrary, Simon has played five tournaments plus Davis Cup since April so he should be geared up and ready to go. With this said, Hewitt is one of the greatest battlers in tennis and Simon knows full and well this could be a dogfight from start to finish. Ultimately, I think Hewitt’s age and lack of match play will do him in and Simon will come out on top.
Prediction: Simon in four sets
James Duckworth (Australia) vs. Blaz Kavcic (Slovenia)- The first Sunday of the French Open doesn’t usually present a breathtaking lineup so if you are looking for a match that might not provide the highest quality tennis but will provide a high level of entertainment, look no further. These two met in the second round of the Australian Open in an absolutely riveting encounter which Kavcic won 10-8 in the fifth set after four hours and fifty minutes of physically grueling play. If their match tomorrow is even half as entertaining as the one in Australia, the French crowd will surely have gotten their money’s worth. It’ll be extremely intriguing to see how this rematch unfolds and to see if Duckworth can extract revenge on his Slovenian nemesis. Hopefully, neither guy will be looking like Kavic did after their Australian Open encounter which you can see by clicking here. In terms of match play, Duckworth obtained his main draw entrance as a qualifier so he should be adapted to and comfortable with the Paris conditions. Kavicic won his opening round matches in Casablanca and Barcelona but failed to advance past the second round of any tournament during the European clay court swing.
Prediction: Duckworth rides his momentum from qualifying to take out Kavcic in five sets