Watch List: Final French Open tune-ups for John Isner and Sloane Stephens
The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. With less than a week to go before the start of the French Open, two ATP 250 events and two WTA International-events offer one final tune-up for a few key names, such as John Isner, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard and Ernests Gulbis.
John Isner was none too pleased about losing in the first round of the Italian Open to Jurgen Melzer. He'll get a chance to bounce back in Nice where he is the top seed, with Ernests Gulbis, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon rounding out the top four seeds. Isner could face fellow American Jack Sock in the second round after Sock successfully qualified (Sam Querrey, Robbie Ginepri and Donald Young all lost in qualifying).
Sloane Stephens took a wildcard and will reunite with coach Paul Annacone in Strasbourg. She leads a pack of young American women, including Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Vania King, Lauren Davis and Christina McHale. Stephens is the top seed and will face Julia Goerges in the first round. The No. 2 seed Alize Cornet has an intriguing opening match against Camila Giorgi.
Angelique Kerber and Eugenie Bouchard are the top two seeds and both are tying to find some clay court form after what has been a disappointing stint on the surface so far. After a heroic tun for Germany in Fed Cup, Kerber is on a three match losing streak and is coming off a back injury that forced her to retire in Madrid. Bouchard hasn't been the same since Fed Cup either, losing in the opening round of the last two tournaments.
The name to keep an eye on here is No. 46 Caroline Garcia. The Frenchwoman skipped Rome after making the quartefinals of the Madrid Open and has been on fire the last month, going 11-1 since the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. She is playing well above her ranking and will be a dangerous floater in Paris.
Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marcel Granollers, Andreas Seppi and Joao Sousa top the field here, and Dustin Brown, everyone's favorite German dreadlocked player, enters as a wild card.
French Open draw ceremony
We know the that Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Li Na will all be on opposite sides of their respective draws, but with so many players poised to play bracket-buster, this year's draw is worth paying attention to. I won't go so far as to say this year's French Open is wide open, but it is definitely more open than it has been in recent years. In particular, where will No. 4 Simona Halep, No. 7 Maria Sharapova and No. 12 Ana Ivanovic land in the draw? All three are expected to make deep runs into the second week and from their success from the quarterfinals forward could turn on who gets the more favorable draw. As for the men, the names to keep an eye on are No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 4 Roger Federer, No. 5 David Ferrer, No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 9 Kei Nishikori and No. 12 Grigor Dimitrov will be key placements. The ceremony takes place in Paris on Friday.