French Open Day 1 matches to watch: Federer, Halep open on Chatrier
PARIS – The 2015 French Open gets underway on Sunday with the bottom half of both the men's and women's draw in action. Play begins at 5 a.m. ET on ESPN2, with some coverage moving to NBC at 1 p.m.. Full television and broadcast schedule can be found here.
Here are the matches and storylines to watch on Day 1:
Simona Halep and Roger Federer open Court Philippe Chatrier: Halep told reporters on Friday that she's not dwelling on the past as she returns to the one major that has defined her career. A finalist here last year (and a junior champion in 2008), the No. 3 seed will open play on Chatrier against No. 91 Evgeniya Rodina.
No. 2 seed Roger Federer will follow her, as he takes on an opponent he knows all too well in No. 111 Alejandro Falla. Federer has never lost to the Colombian but Falla held a two-sets to love lead on Federer in the first round of Wimbledon in 2010, only to succumb to nerves and lose in five sets.
The French will close out play on Chatrier, with Caroline Garcia playing 18-year old Donna Vekic. With Vekic's ranking tumbling to No. 165, it should be smooth sailing for Garcia. Then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays No. 200 Christian Lindell. No upset alert here.
Ana Ivanovic and Ernests Gulbis on upset watch: After resurgent 2014 seasons, both Ivanovic and Gulbis have been completely unreliable this season. Well, that's not true for Gulbis. Last year's French Open semifinalist has, unfortunately, become a fairly reliable loser. He's won just two matches all year.
Ivanovic opens against the talented No. 65 Yaroslava Shvedova (fourth match, Lenglen), while Gulbis plays No. 166 Igor Sijsling (third match, Court 1). Both should roll. Emphasis on should.
Another result to keep an eye on is Garbine Muguruza vs. Petra Martic (second match, Court 1). The Spaniard upset Serena Williams here last year and went on to make her first Slam quarterfinal, but she's been mired in a slump since February. No. 155 Martic has a few wins under belt after coming through qualifying. Qualifiers are always dangerous first round opponents if you're struggling with your form and confidence.
Americans on deck: Three Americans play on Sunday and they all are going for upset wins. Steve Johnson takes on No. 26 Guillermo Garcia Lopez (fourth match, Court 3), Lauren Davis plays Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (first match, Court 17) and 19-year-old American wildcard Louisa Chirico gets to open up play on Lenglen against No. 9 Ekaterina Makarova. Here's hope the teenager savors the experience.
The best match-up of the day: In a first round match that could be the final of a mid-tier WTA tournament, No. 13 Lucie Safarova takes on No. 38 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (fourth match, Court 2) in what is the most even match-up of the day. Pavlyuchenkova leads the head-to-head 4-1 but this is their first meeting on clay.
Newbie to watch: Sweden's Elias Ymer. The 19-year-old, born to Ethiopian parents, seems primed to be the next breakout teenager. Currently ranked No. 175, he trains at Magnus Norman's Good to Great Academy and is coached by Milos Raonic's former coach, Galo Blanco. It should be fun watching him go against No. 40 Lukas Rosol in the first match on Court 3.
See the full schedule for Sunday, May 24 at the French Open here.