Thursday May 30th, 2013

Gael Monfils will take on Tommy Robredo, who has enjoyed a strong clay season to date. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Gael Monfils will take on Tommy Robredo, who has enjoyed a strong clay season to date. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 6 of the French Open. Play begins at 5 a.m. ET. Click here for the order of play.


Roger Federer and the French on Chatrier: How many of the five French players scheduled for Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday will walk out a winner? Marion Bartoli, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jeremy Chardy, Julien Benneteau and Virginie Razzano will wave the tricolore, with Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova appearing on center court as well. Sharapova's second-round match against Genie Bouchard -- she's French-Canadian, so the theme still works -- was suspended Thursday with Sharapova leading 6-2, 4-2 (second match). But the highlight match features Benneteau, who tries to extend his winning streak against Federer to ... two (third match). The 31-year-old Frenchman stunned Federer 6-3, 7-5 on an indoor hard court in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in February. The Swiss great is poised for revenge.

"Now, you can't say I never beat him or I never played him before," Federer said after his second-round match, "but it's true when I play against him he makes it difficult for me, and I have some problems and I have to find a solution."

That solution may just be the surface itself. Benneteau has challenged Federer on quick indoor courts and grass. But a best-of-five on clay? No chance.

Favorites on Lenglen: Court Suzanne Lenglen is the ticket to have on Friday, as Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Gael Monfils will surely light up the crowd on Roland Garros' secondary show court. Nadal takes on Martin Klizan in a second-round match that was canceled Thursday (first match). Serena plays her first seed of the tournament in the streaky Sorana Cirstea (second match). Monfils looks to continue The Week of La Monf against 31-year-old Tommy Robredo.

All American men in action: Ryan Harrison's second-round clash with John Isner and Jack Sock's match against Tommy Haas were canceled Thursday, and they're scheduled first Friday (Harrison vs. Isner: first match, Court 7; Sock vs. Haas: first match, Court 2). You can read previews of those matches here. While those four duke it out to get into the third round, Sam Querrey tries to book his spot in the fourth round against 15th-seeded Gilles Simon (third match, Court 2). Simon leads their head-to-head 2-1, but Querrey's lone victory came on clay in 2009.

Clear skies: The forecast calls for only a 10 percent chance of rain. Good news.

Matches to watch

Serena Williams vs. Sorana Cirstea (second match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): Serena has looked unstoppable through the first two rounds, dropping a mere three games. That doesn't mean we're not going to keep an eye on her. Cirstea hits the ball big and flat and all over the place. But on the days she actually hits those laser forehands in, she's a giant killer.

Rafael Nadal vs. Martin Klizan (first match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): I ignored Nadal's opening match against Daniel Brands and the German took a set and almost took a second before he blinked and let Nadal take control. Klizan is a much more accomplished player than Brands -- the Slovakian made the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year -- though he's been having a terrible season. Still, I'm not assuming anything here.

Gael Monfils vs. Tommy Robredo (third match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): No one has electrified this tournament like Monfils. So just leave it to him to beat Tomas Berdych and Ernests Gulbis and have a clear shot to the quarterfinals, and end up losing here to Robredo. The Spanish veteran is not to be overlooked. He hasn't lost to a player outside the top 20 on European red clay all year while beating Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov and Benoit Paire. In other words, once again, Monfils is the underdog, even if his opponent isn't a headliner.

Milos Raonic vs. Kevin Anderson (third match, Court 7): Two tall, big servers on clay. I have a perverse fascination with watching players who have games that don't necessarily suit the surface facing off against each other. Raonic won their only meeting, a 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory on an indoor hard court in San Jose, Calif., in February.

Virginie Razzano vs. Ana Ivanovic (fifth match, Court Philippe Chatrier): Expect the unexpected anytime Razzano plays on Chatrier. Monica Puig vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (third match, Court 3): Puig, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican ranked No. 85, has already upset 11th-seeded Nadia Petrova and Madison Keys. Suarez Navarro won't give her as many free points as those two big hitters, so this will be a grinder.

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