There will be no shortage of star power on display as the second Grand Slam of the year kicks off on Sunday at Roland Garros.
Top 10 stars Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin join #NextGenATP talents Taylor Fritz and Corentin Moutet and home favourites Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille on a loaded Day One in Paris. Also in action is an in-form Kei Nishikori, who enters as the 19th seed and is poised to make a deep run on the heels of a strong clay-court campaign on the ATP World Tour.
The Japanese star is hoping to continue his return to top form after registering impressive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 results in Monte-Carlo and Rome. A pair of Top 5 wins – over Zverev and Marin Cilic – saw him surge to the final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which was followed by another signature victory over World No. 4 Dimitrov at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
A quarter-finalist at Roland Garros last year, the 28-year-old will be looking to build on a 15-7 record at the clay-court major. He opens against local wild card Maxime Janvier in the second match on Court 1. One of 15 Frenchmen in the main draw, Janvier is making his Grand Slam debut.
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Meanwhile, the first match of the tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier will be fourth seed Dimitrov against Viktor Troicki. A rematch of the 2016 Sydney final, won by the Serbian, it will be their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter. Dimitrov leads 3-2.
With three straight defeats, the World No. 5 is struggling to find his feet on the clay, but will be buoyed by a pair of deep runs in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. He scored his first Top 10 win of the year (in a completed match) over Goffin en route to the semis in the Principality.
Dimitrov is trying to recapture the momentum from a dominant finish to the 2017 season, when he lifted the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals. Currently sitting in 10th place in the ATP Race To London, the Bulgarian will look to a strong campaign on the terre battue in hopes of boosting his chances of returning to The O2. He has a tricky path in Paris, potentially facing either Nicolas Jarry or Jared Donaldson in the second round, with 2016 champion Novak Djokovic also in his section.
Concluding the day on Court Suzanne-Lenglen is second seed Zverev, who rides into Roland Garros on a wave of momentum following consecutive titles in Munich and Madrid and a final appearance in Rome. Despite his wealth of success at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level – reaching five of the past 10 finals – the German remains in search of his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Five First-Round Matches To Watch
The leader in tour-level match wins (30) in 2018 and the top player in the ATP Race To London, Zverev is hoping his recent success will translate to the second major of the year. He opens against Ricardas Berankis, with 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, top Frenchman Lucas Pouille and unseeded threats Cameron Norrie, Peter Gojowczyk and Karen Khachanov all standing in his way of reaching his first quarter-final.
Joining Dimitrov and Zverev on the two main show courts are French stalwarts Pouille and Monfils. Pouille faces Daniil Medvedev third on Chatrier, while Monfils will open his 12th Roland Garros bid against 19-year-old wild card Elliot Benchetrit on Lenglen. Making his Grand Slam debut, the teen is coming off a quarter-final appearance at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bordeaux as a qualifier.
In one of the most intriguing first-round encounters, another #NextGenATP Frenchman, 19-year-old Corentin Moutet, battles big-serving 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic. With a 20-year age difference, they are the youngest and oldest players in the draw. At No. 143 in the ATP Rankings, Moutet is closing in on the Top 100. He defeated Karlovic in a marathon 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) affair on the clay of Quito in February, en route to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final.
In other action, Fritz faces Argentina’s Guido Andreozzi in his second appearance in Paris. The 20-year-old enters with a surge of confidence following a semi-final showing in Houston and quarter-final finish in Lyon, where he earned a straight-set upset of Jack Sock.
Another highly anticipated match-up features Fernando Verdasco against Yoshihito Nishioka on Court 18, with the Spaniard making his 60th consecutive Grand Slam appearance. He will face a stern test in Nishioka, who is thriving in his return from ACL surgery. The 22-year-old Japanese lifted the trophy at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Gimcheon, Korea, three weeks ago.
Seeds in Action on Day 1…
||FedEx ATP Head2Head
| Alexander Zverev vs. Ricardas Berankis
| Grigor Dimitrov vs. Viktor Troicki
||Dimitrov leads 3-2
| David Goffin vs. Robin Haase
||Goffin leads 4-1
| Lucas Pouille vs. Daniil Medvedev
||Pouille leads 2-0
| Kei Nishikori vs. [WC] Maxime Janvier
| Gael Monfils vs. [WC] Elliot Benchetrit