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Beyond the Baseline

French Open Day 6 matches to watch: Townsend, 18, gets another big test

Taylor Townsend Taylor Townsend is the youngest woman to reach the French Open third round in five years. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

PARIS — Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 6 of the French Open. Play begins at 5 a.m. ET and will be aired by ESPN2 before Tennis Channel takes over at 10 a.m. Click here for the order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.

Storylines

Young guns try to back up their upsets: Taylor Townsend, an 18-year-old from Chicago making her Grand Slam debut, is seeking to become the youngest American woman to reach the fourth round of the French Open since 1998. She'll meet No. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro (second match, Court 1). It's a tough ask for Townsend, ranked No. 205, to knock off the 25-year-old Spaniard, a former Roland Garros quarterfinalist who is 15-3 on clay this year. Then again, she wasn't supposed to beat French No. 1 Alize Cornet in front of a partisan crowd either. At a minimum, if you haven't had a chance to watch Townsend play, tune in to see why Andy Murray and so many others love her game. (Click here for more on Townsend.)

Also Friday, Garbine Muguruza, who stunned Serena Williams, and Anna Schmiedlova, who outlasted Venus Williams, will try to avoid a letdown (third match, Court 7) as they face each other. The winner has a great shot at the quarterfinals because the fourth-round opponent would be either No. 145 Pauline Parmentier or No. 74 Mona Barthel.

Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova on Court Philippe Chatrier: Federer will play No. 31 Dmitry Tursunov (second match) and Sharapova will play No. 75 Paula Ormaechea (third match). Federer is 4-0 against Tursunov, though this is their first meeting on clay. Ormaechea, who has matched her best Grand Slam performance, is 0-3 against top-10 players entering her first match against Sharapova.

John Isner eyes milestone: The American No. 1, bidding to make the fourth round for the first time, has a tough challenge against No. 17 and 2013 quarterfinalist Tommy Robredo (third round, Court 1). Isner has a five-match losing streak against seeded players at majors.

Milos Raonic tries to make history: Raonic can become the first Canadian man ever to make the fourth round if he can defeat No. 29 Gilles Simon of France (fourth match, Court Philippe Chatrier). In their only meeting, Raonic won on clay at the 2011 Portugal Open.

More matches to watch

Dominika Cibulkova [9] vs. Sam Stosur [19] (first match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): The winner will most likely play Sharapova in the fourth round. Stosur is 4-0 against Cibulkova, including a 6-4, 6-0 victory on clay at the Madrid Open earlier this month. Stosur has quietly been playing well, and I'll back her for the upset here.

Marin Cilic [25] vs. Novak Djokovic [2] (second match, Court Suzanne Lenglen): It's a good-looking match in theory, but Djokovic is 8-0 against Cilic and clay blunts the Croat's big weapons. This should be a straightforward victory for the Serb.

Radek Stepanek vs. Ernests Gulbis [18] (first match, Court 1): Gulbis is into the third round for the first time since he made the quarterfinals in 2008. If he can remain undefeated against the 35-year-old Czech (3-0 with no lost sets so far), Gulbis would probably play Federer in the next round. I'm popping my popcorn already.

Tomas Berdych [6] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut [27] (third match, Court 2): Two of Bautista Agut's three victories against top-10 players have come against Berdych, including a win at the hard-court BNP Paribas Open in March. The Spaniard is having a breakout season, climbing from No. 73 into the top 30. Big test for the Czech here.
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