Roland Garros Day 1 Preview

Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is on the bill in Paris on Sunday, along with Sam Stosur, last year's runner-up.

Published May 21, 2011 09:04

Roland Garros Day 1 Preview
Svetlana Kuznetsova

Sunday First Round

Court 1
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK #61) vs. [13] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #13)
Head-to-Head: First meeting
Since losing to Irina-Camelia Begu in the semis at Marbella, Kuznetsova, incredibly, hasn't won a match at the clay lead-ins. By contrast, Rybarikova has pocketed her second career title at Memphis earlier in the year, and last week won a $100K ITF event in Prague - a victory that is more notable for the fact that she scored the first Top 10 win of her career in the final, defeating Petra Kvitova. Still, it's hard not to think that the fate of this match lies in the Russian's hands. The only real high point of her season has been a runner-up finish at Dubai, where she beat three higher-placed seeds - a classic showcase of her ability to weather mercurial form to produce good wins. And she is, after all, a two-time Grand Slam champion, winning here just two years ago. That counts for a lot.

Court 2
[19] Shahar Peer (ISR #20) vs. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP #86)
Head-to-Head: Peer leads 1-0
Peer must have cringed when she saw the draw: Martínez Sánchez is surely one of the most dangerous floaters in the field, and way better than her current post of No.86 would suggest. The 28-year-old Spaniard's ranking fell through the floor after her Rome title defense flopped in the first round; in fact, the only matches she's won this clay swing were in Spain's Fed Cup victory over France in April (which elevated the Spaniards back to the elite World Group). The problem with that is her crafty, too-rare style of play, which usually involves serve-and-volley even on clay, relies on lashings of confidence. She doesn't seem to have it at the moment, which has to encourage a powerful, steady baseliner like Peer - though she, too, is coming off a perplexing first round loss to Casey Dellacqua in Brussels.

Court 7
Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP #92) vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA #34)
Head-to-Head: Mattek-Sands leads 2-0
On her way to the quarters in Madrid, Mattek-Sands upended two former French Open champions, Ana Ivanovic and Francesca Schiavone, and she arrives in Paris on a new career-high ranking of No.34. Having just missed out on a seeding, the good news for the highest-ranked American in the field is that she has avoided a seed in the first round. The not-so-good news is that in Parra Santonja, she bumps into a classy Spanish clay courter who's scored wins over the likes of Flavia Pennetta and Andrea Petkovic in recent weeks. Mattek-Sands actually won their only previous meeting on clay, though that was five years ago. The rock chick of tennis has momentum, but this will provide a real gauge of her chances of causing serious damage in the weeks ahead.

More to watch...
Last year's runner-up, Samantha Stosur, opens proceedings on Chatrier against Iveta Benesova. Later, No.17 seed Julia Goerges plays Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson on the same stage. Alizé Cornet plays Renata Voracova first up on Lenglen, with No.10 seed Jelena Jankovic following two matches later against Alona Bondarenko. Flavia Pennetta, the No.18 seed, plays Varvara Lepchenko last on Court 1; the Italian's doubles partner, Gisela Dulko, plays US wildcard Irina Falconi at the start of the session on Court 3.

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