UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Beyond the Baseline

French Open Day 2 matches to watch: Rafael Nadal begins his title defense

Rafael Nadal plays his first match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, which surprised many people. (Julian Finney/Getty Images) Rafael Nadal plays his first match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, which surprised many people. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

PARIS — Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 2 of the French Open. Play begins at 5:00 a.m. ET and will be aired by ESPN2 before Tennis Channel takes over at 10:00 a.m. Click here for the order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.

Storylines

No. 1 seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal plays his opening match on... Court Suzanne Lenglen?: Quite a few eyebrows went up at the sight of the French Open welcoming back its eight-time champion not on Court Philippe Chatrier but on the tournament's second show court, Court Suzanne Lenglen. It's not that Nadal's matches should always be on Chatrier -- this isn't Wimbledon and he's not Andy Murray -- but to put his first match on Lenglen while Stan Wawrinka gets top-court billing is bizarre. It also adds to the idea that the French have never been all too enamored with the Spaniard's dominance of their tournament. Nadal plays American Robby Ginepri (third match, Court Suzanne Lenglen).

Stan Wawrinka on upset alert: Everyone's wondering whether we'll see the "Melbourne/Monte Carlo" Stan or the "Indian Wells/Miami/Madrid/Rome" Stan in his first-round match. At his best, we've seen Wawrinka and his one-handed backhand mow down the field. When he's not at his best he can lose early, and his first round opponent Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (fourth match, Court Philippe Chatrier) is a dangerous one. The 30-year-old Spaniard won his first title this season on clay in Casablanca, and then beat Tomas Berdych and pushed Djokovic to three sets in Monte Carlo. He's a big hitter and when he's on he can cause a lot of problems.

Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic headline Court Philippe Chatrier: Sharapova kicks off the day on Chatrier against No. 160 Ksenia Pervak, who she beat in their only meeting here in the first round in 2010. Novak Djokovic follows her against Portugal's Joao Sousa.

Taylor Townsend makes her Grand Slam debut: The 18-year-old won the USTA wildcard and will make her main-draw debut against fellow American Vania King (third match, Court 16).

The weather: But will any of these matches actually get played? The weather on Day 1 was perfect, but rain is expected for most of the day on Monday, though whether that means a light drizzle (which they can play through) or a downpour (which...they can't) remains to be seen.

Serena, Venus, Federer all advance without drama on Day 1 of French Open

More matches to watch

Kei Nishikori [9] vs. Martin Klizan (first match, Court 1): Nishikori says the hip injury that forced him to retire from the Madrid final is getting better, but he's still not 100 percent. That's bad news for him because with the style of his game he needs to be in top form to battle through best-of-five on clay. Klizan isn't an easy first-round draw either, with the former U.S. Open quarterfinalist finding some form recently. He won his first title of the year in Munich last month as a qualifier, defeating Fabio Fognini in the final.

Sloane Stephens [15] vs. Peng Shuai (fourth match, Court 1): Stephens has made the fourth round or better at the last five Slams, a fantastic streak for someone so young. But she comes into Paris with question marks after head-scratching losses to Julia Goerges and Varvara Lepchenko in her last two tournaments. On paper Peng is a tricky draw, but the Chinese No. 2 hasn't had a good clay season since withdrawing from a tournament in Morocco with a left thigh injury.

Samantha Stosur [19] vs. Monica Puig (second match, Court 2): Puig just won her first title over the weekend in Strasbourg, where she beat both Andrea Petkovic and Madison Keys en route to the final. Can she sustain her form and momentum and score the upset? Stosur has quietly had a good clay lead-up, making the third round of Madrid and Rome, where she lost to Sharapova and Li Na.

Paul-Henri Mathieu vs. Dominic Thiem (third match, Court 2): Everyone is tapping Thiem to give Nadal a challenge in the second round, but first he has to get through the veteran French wildcard.

Ernests Gulbis [18] vs. Lukas Kubot (second match, Court 3): Gulbis is my darkhorse pick for a possible semifinal run at the French Open. He just won his second title in Nice and has been playing consistent tennis. The only problem is that he's been consistently horrible at the Slams, losing to Andreas Haider-Maurer and Sam Querrey in his last two. He hasn't made it past the second round in Paris since 2008. It's time to break the Slam voodoo.

More Beyond the Baseline

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.