Day 5: Keys, Tomic, Stephens face fellow young opponents, No. 1s return
PARIS – Day 5 at the French Open features No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams on Lenglen and Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray on Chatrier. Play begins at 5 a.m. ET on ESPN2, with coverage moving to Tennis Channel at 10 a.m. Full television and broadcast schedule can be found here. Full order of play can be found here.
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray lead the way on Court Philippe Chatrier: The Spaniard looked sharp in his opening win over French wildcard Quentin Halys, but he'll face a far tougher opponent in his countryman Nicolas Almagro (second match, Chatrier). Almagro got his first career win over Nadal last year on the red clay in Barcelona, but he still trails 1-12 in their head-to-head. This should be a good early test for Nadal's movement and return.
Murray follows Nadal on Chatrier as he takes on Joao Sousa. Murray is 5–0 against Sousa and he's never lost a set to him.
No. 1s go back-to-back on Court Suzanne Lenglen: Roland Garros' secondary court is the better ticket on Thursday, as Serena Williams takes on Anna-Lena Friedsam (second match) and Novak Djokovic plays Gilles Muller (third match). They're bookended by Petra Kvitova, who will try to rebound from a near-loss against Spain's Silvia Soler-Espinosa (first match) and a potentially exciting match between Richard Gasquet and Carlos Berlocq (fourth match). I don't anticipate too much drama in the first three matches, as Soler-Espinosa simply doesn't have the weapons to bother Kvitova. Same goes for Germany's Friedsam against Serena. While Muller is always game for an upset at a major, his second round match was called for light on Tuesday and he had to resume on Wednesday, winning in five sets. He'll be too fatigued to give Djokovic a challenge.
The Future of Tennis on display on Court 7: Want to see what tennis will look like on the main stadiums in five years? Just park yourself on the cozy confines of Court 7, where play begins with an Aussie intramural featuring Bernard Tomic and 18-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis, after Britain's Kyle Edmund withdrew with a stomach injury on Wednesday, giving Nick Kyrgios a walkover into the third round. Next is 20-year-old Madison Keys vs. 19-year-old Belinda Bencic. And the day ends with the veteran affair of the day, in Sloane Stephens vs. Heather Watson.
Victoria Azarenka looks to set up a blockbuster third round vs. Serena: She's got a potentially tricky one against Lucie Hradecka (second match, Court 1), who is playing her best tennis in years. But if Azarenka and Serena win on Thursday they'll face off in a massive third round match on Saturday.
John Isner eyeing a deep run in Paris: He's playing as well as he ever has on clay but he'll have to step it up against Jeremy Chardy (third match, Court 1). Isner is a potential fourth round opponent for Murray.
Can Tommy Robredo school another teenager? The Spanish veteran put on a clinic to dismantle Nick Kyrgios last year at the U.S. Open. On Thursday he plays 18-year-old Borna Coric (third match, Court 2).