French Open Expert Opinions: Volume II
Published May 24, 2014 12:13
PARIS, France - Check in with four of our experts - Mark Hodgkinson, Courtney Nguyen, Nick McCarvel and Ravi Ubha - about a variety of French Open topics. Volume III coming tomorrow...
3) What is the most exciting first round match, in your opinion?
Hodgkinson: For France's Alizé Lim, call it the curse of the pre-draw 'selfie'. On Thursday night, Serena Williams tweeted a photograph of herself and Lim at the players' party. On Friday morning, they were drawn to play each other in the first round.
Nguyen: Ana Ivanovic vs. Caroline Garcia. The young Frenchwoman is playing well above her No.46 ranking and she'd love nothing more than to pull off the bracket-busting upset in front of the French crowd.
Ubha: Ana Ivanovic vs. Caroline Garcia. This is a tough draw - for both players. Given how the two are playing, it wouldn't look out of place in the fourth round or even quarterfinals. Call it highly surprising if the duo aren't on center court.
McCarvel: Garcia-Ivanovic. You couldn't hear it on the livestream, but there was an audible groan inside the draw ceremony when Caroline Garcia's name landed next to Ana Ivanovic's for their first round encounter. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman has been hot this spring, winning her maiden title in Bogotá and playing solid tennis all around. But Ivanovic may be more on fire, and if the 2008 winner is on form, there will be nothing that Caroline nor the French crowd will be able to do. Here's hoping this one has the makings of a topsy-turvy first round gutter. In either case, I say it goes three.
4) Which WTA rising star are you expecting to make a deep run?
McCarvel: Barty. In a way, the 18-year-old Australian has stalled a bit, scoring her highest career ranking of No.129 late last summer before slipping to No.182 entering into the French. She's punchy and smart, having an all-court game that brought her and partner Casey Dellacqua into three Grand Slam finals last year. Is this the tournament that she has a legitimate breakthrough? Alizé Cornet is France's biggest hope and no doubt this match will go on one of two stadium courts. But if Barty gets an edge in, she could win this match and a round or two more - the talent is no doubt there and waiting to come out.
Nguyen: Assuming she's healthy after withdrawing from Rome with an abdominal injury, you have to go with Simona Halep. She's earned herself a Top 4 seed, which means she should have winnable matches up to the quarterfinals. Plus this is her best surface and her big goal this season is to improve her results at the majors. She's never made it past the second round at Roland Garros and anything less than the quarterfinals would be a shocker.
Ubha: Caroline Garcia. Once her long losing streak ended, Garcia has shown glimpses of the form that earned her such high praise from Andy Murray. Garcia knows how to play on clay, too - having won in Bogota and reached the quarterfinals in Madrid. But, can she handle the pressure of playing at home?
Hodgkinson: It was Andy Murray who once described Caroline Garcia as a future World No.1. Garcia isn't there yet, but the Frenchwoman is in the world's Top 50, and she could have some impact at her home Grand Slam.