Who are you? Guide to French Open top seeds’ first round rivals
Written by tokyoclub on May 29, 2021
AFP Sport looks at the first round opponents of the big stars at the French Open which gets underway at Roland Garros on Sunday:
MEN (x denotes world ranking):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Tennys Sandgren (USA x66)
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 3-0
– Sandgren, a 29-year-old from Tennessee, lost three first round matches in a row at Roland Garros until he stopped the rot on the way to the second round in 2020. He famously had seven match points before losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open quarter-finals last year. In 2018, Sandgren, a devout Christian, also made the last-eight in Melbourne but came under fire for his alleged ‘alt-right’ views.
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) v Alexei Popyrin (AUS x62)
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 1-0
– The 21-year-old Popyrin was beaten by Nadal on clay in Madrid this season after the beanpole Australian had come through qualifying. He has already earned a personal best of 15 wins on tour this year but has yet to get past the second round in Paris, and is expected to be easy fodder for the 13-time champion who has been beaten at the French Open just twice in 15 years. “He’s young, he has the power, big shots and so I need to play well,” said Nadal.
Roger Federer (SUI x8) v Denis Istomin (UZB x203)
Head-to-head: Federer leads 7-0
– A former world number 33, Istomin is almost unique on tour in that he is still coached by his mother. He famously knocked Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open in the second round in 2017. He had to play the qualifying rounds in Paris this year.
WOMEN (x denotes world ranking)
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) v Bernarda Pera (USA x70)
Head-to-head: First meeting
– Croatian-born Pera is a left-hander who has reached the second round in Paris in 2018 and 2020. A solid clay court performer, she went through qualifying to make the main draw in Madrid and Rome this spring. In the Italian capital, it took former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza to stop her in three sets in the second round.
Naomi Osaka (JPN x2) v Patricia Maria Tig (ROM x63)
Head-to-head: Osaka leads 1-0
– Tig may only have one career title but that came on clay in Istanbul last year before a run to the third round at the French Open. The 26-year-old is one of the many mothers on the tour, giving birth to daughter Sofia in November 2018.
Serena Williams (USA x8) v Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM x74)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 1-0
– The 30-year-old Begu has enjoyed runs to the third round at the French Open in 2018 and 2019. She reached a career high of 22 in 2016.