Day 6 matches to watch: American Johnson, six French stars in action
PARIS – Day 6 at the French Open features American Steve Johnson taking on Stan Wawrinka, Maria Sharapova vs. Sam Stosur, Ana Ivanovic and six French stars in action at Roland Garros. 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.
Maria Sharapova faces a tough test against Sam Stosur: Yes, the Russian leads the head-to-head 14–2. Yes, she didn't look all that concerned when discussing their match-up, telling reporters she enjoyed playing the Aussie. And yes, Stosur can be a little wobbly, as she showed last year when she led Sharapova 6–3, 4–3 only to lose nine straight games right here in Paris. But Stosur is playing some very confident tennis since she reunited with her former coach David Taylor, and you can never count out a woman who once beat both Justine Henin and Serena Williams at Roland Garros en route to the final in 2011. One factor could be the weather. If the conditions remain cool and heavy that will favor Sharapova. If it's a warmer day Stosur's heavy topspin and serve will benefit.
Steve Johnson gets his shot at Stan Wawrinka: Johnson earned one of the best wins of his career when he beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round. Now he'll try and make the fourth round of a major for the first time—but it won't be easy. He has never played or practiced with the No. 8 seed, meaning he'll need some time to get used to the incredible power off that comes off Wawrinka's racket, particularly on the backhand wing.
A big day for the French: Friday's schedule doesn't feature too many blockbuster matches—Roger Federer is on the slate playing No. 88 Damir Dzumhur—but it's a big day for the French, with six of their stars in action and four favored to get through to the fourth round. No. 29 seed Alize Cornet starts things off on Court Chatrier against the woman who stunned No. 3 Simona Halep, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Lucic-Baroni is aiming to make the fourth round of a Slam for the second time in her last three majors, an amazing resurgence for the 33-year-old.
14th-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga closes play on Chatrier against Pablo Andujar, a potentially tricky match given Andujar's solid run to the Barcelona Open final last month, even though Tsonga has looked rested and sharp through his first two rounds.
Out on Court Suzanne Lenglen, No. 12 seed Gilles Simon takes on Nicolas Mahut (second match), followed by 13th-seed Gael Monfils against Pablo Cuevas (third match). Can Monfils avoid another completely unnecessary five-set encounter? Probably not. So tune in.
The toughest task of the day belongs to Benoit Paire, who faces No. 4 Tomas Berdych.
Ana Ivanovic on upset alert (again) against Donna Vekic: The Serb is the highest seed left in her quarter after Halep's loss and she has not looked convincing in her first two rounds. Vekic, meanwhile, has played her best tennis to beat Caroline Garcia and Bojana Jovanovski. This is the first meeting between the two.
More matches to watch:
No. 21 Garbine Muguruza vs. No. 11 Angelique Kerber (third match, Court 2): Muguruza has been quiet since the start of the season and she's defending quarterfinal points here in Paris. Kerber has looked solid after taking some time to recover physically from her early title runs in Charleston and Stuttgart. Favor the German to avoid the upset.
No. 13 Lucie Safarova vs. No. 20 Sabine Lisicki (second match, Court 1): This is shaping up to be a potentially great tournament for the German women if Lisicki can pull off the upset against Safarova. She leads the head-to-head 3–1 but Safarova's one win came on clay.
No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro vs. No. 28 Flavia Pennetta (fourth match, Lenglen)
Bob and Mike Bryan vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis and Lucas Pouille (Doubles round two, first match, Court 1)
Annika Beck vs. No. 19 Elina Svitolina (first match, Court 7)