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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday May 22, 2022


Before we kick off three days of first-round action at Roland-Garros (yes, the French is still the only Slam that does this on purpose), let’s have a look at ten mouthwatering matchups on tap for the round of 128.

Tennis Express

1. Stan Wawrinka v Corentin Moutet
Why it is popcorn? The Stanimal is back on the tour at 37 and hoping to take one more rip at the top of the sport. The former RG champion showed signs of finding his best tennis in Rome, just two weeks ago, while Moutet, a wild-eyed and tempestuous talent, has been off his game for a while. But the Frenchman is always happy to play in Paris, his home city, and will surely make this contest a battle.

Who will win and why? Wawrinka will win, because he’s motivated and getting fitter by the day, but probably not easily.

2. Taylor Townsend v Caroline Garcia
Why it is popcorn? New mom Taylor Townsend had one of her best Slam experiences in Paris when she reached the third round on her RG debut in 2014. Caroline Garcia, home favorite and quarterfinalist in 2017, is 8-3 lifetime in first-rounders in Paris.

Who will win and why? Townsend, because she is riding the wave of motherhood and feeling that anything is possible.

3. Carlos Alcaraz v Juan Ignacio Londero
Why it is popcorn? Because it’s Carlos Alcaraz’s first match. Need we say more? (also note that Londero reached the round of 16 at RG in 2019 and took eight games from Nadal).

Who will win and why? Alcaraz, because he has been virtually unstoppable since February.

4. Amanda Anisimova v Naomi Osaka
Why it is popcorn? A rematch of this year’s third-rounder at the Australian Open, which was won by Anisimova when she saved two match points in a dramatic final set tiebreak. This encounter takes place on a surface that is more favorable to Anisimova, so it is definitely Osaka on upset alert here.

Who will win and why? Anisimova, because she’s a better player on clay than Osaka, and due to the fact that Osaka is not 100 percent fit.

5. Frances Tiafoe v Benjamin Bonzi
Why it is popcorn? Benjamin Bonzi is underrated and talented Frenchman who will be looking to claim a seed in front of droves of rowdy French fans. Frances Tiafoe lives for this kind of match, and he’ll embrace the atmosphere just as much.

Who will win and why? Tiafoe, though it could be much closer than he would like.

6. Kaia Kanepi v Garbine Muguruza
Why it is popcorn? 2015 champion Garbine Muguruza is desperately searching for form and she’s up against seed-slaying Kaia Kanepi, who lives to topple big names at the majors. Don’t miss this one.

Who will win and why? Muguruza, simply because she is due for a big win.

7. Denis Shapovalov v Holger Rune
Why it is popcorn? Holger Rune is rising fast and will likely end up being a much better clay-courter than Denis Shapovalov. But this year in Paris, Shapovalov is the higher-ranked and more experienced player. Rune has never won a main draw match at a major.

Who will win and why? Shapovalov, who is fresh off a Rome run that saw him beat Nadal, and therefore confident enough to get it done.

8. Linda Noskova v Emma Raducanu
Why it is popcorn? In a battle of talented teens, last year’s RG Girls champ Linda Noskova takes on the injury-addled superstar simply known as Emma. It has been tough for Raducanu to gain momentum in 2022, as injuries have often slowed her progress, but she has demonstrated some pretty good clay-court prowess this spring.

Who will win and why? Raducanu, who has experience on her side, and does appear to be healthy – at least for now.

9. Lorenzo Musetti v Stefanos Tsitsipas
Why it is popcorn? Stylish Italian Lorenzo Musetti reached the round of 16 on his RG debut last year. Stefanos Tsitsipas, meanwhile, came a set from the final. The No.4-seeded Greek has a great draw in Paris, but he’ll have to get through Musetti to make it actionable.

Who will win and why? Tsitsipas, who is built for the clay in Paris, and ready for a tough match from the Italian.

10. Iga Swiatek v Lesia Tsurenko
Why it is popcorn? Cause it’s Iga, she of the 28-match winning streak! And Tsurenko has been a great story as well, saving a match point in her final qualifying match. The Ukrainian, like everybody from her country, has been going through tough times lately and has shown major fortitude just to make the main draw.

Who will win and why? Iga, cause it’s Iga.


 

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