French Open 2019: Kei Nishikori v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Grigor Dimitrov v Marin Cilic pick of popcorn matches
The French Open is really starting to warm up as it heads into day four, and Michael Graham has picked out a few matches to be sure to keep your eye on.
Kei Nishikori v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
You’d have to say that Tsonga is probably quite high up on the list of players that top seeds don’t want to face in the early rounds of the French Open.
He is a former Grand Slam finalist and will be roared on by a partisan Parisian crowd when he meets Nishikori on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Wednesday.
That said, Tsonga’s Roland Garros record isn’t exactly great, and he certainly isn’t the same player he was before injury took a hold of his career.
For Nishikori, the question will be whether he can put the Frenchman away without expending too much energy. The Japanese star fell foul of his inability to cruise through matches at the Australian Open earlier this year and you worry it could be the case again here, and the red dirt would be significantly less forgiving should that indeed prove to be the case.
Either way, it promises to be an absorbing contest.
Grigor Dimitrov v Marin Cilic
This one feels like it should be a match of far greater magnitude than a second-round contest at a Grand Slam.
Neither player have really covered themselves in glory over the last year and, frankly, both had the opportunity and momentum to do so. Cilic was a Grand Slam finalist in January 2018 and Dimitrov the ATP champion just two months before that.
And yet, both have slipped down the rankings after failing to assert themselves as their talent should allow.
Dimitrov has been a particular disaster of late, and he appears to be back to square one in terms of what he has to prove.
The good news is that one of these players must be in the third round and will have the chance to try to make a significant stride towards getting their career back on track.
That means that, whilst the stakes are lower than they probably should be for a Grand Slam meeting between these two, there are still genuine rewards on offer.
Sloane Stephens v Sara Sorribes Tormo
Make no mistake about it, Stephens should be steamrollering her way through this clash with relative ease.
However, it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing for the WTA favourites so far, with Serena Williams, Naomi Oaska, and Simona Halep all being taken to three sets and Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber already dumped out.
The big question will be which Sloane Stephens actually turns up.
The American can be a force the further she progresses in a Grand Slam, but she can be very vulnerable in the first week and that means there is a real possibility of a shock in this one.
Johanna Konta v Lauren Davis
Is Johanna Konta truly back in the fold as a competitor you can expect to still be around in the second week of Grand Slam tournaments?
The recent signs are certainly very good. Her Fed Cup heroics for Great Britain seem to have reinvigorated her, and she has taken that back onto the WTA Tour and impressed of late.
Davis, a wildcard entry, shouldn’t provide too much difficulty for Konta. The American’s first round win was her first at Roland Garros for seven years.
The opportunity to gain momentum is definitely there for Konta, so it will be interesting to see if she can capitalise.
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