Shapo v Stef, Serena v Vika: Roland-Garros, 2020 as we dream it
- 25 Sep 2020
Now that the draws have been revealed for the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros, we have a better idea of the key early battles that could make or break this tournament.
Let’s take a closer look at the key players in both the men’s and women’s singles draw, and discover who they may have to face in order to make it deep into the draw.
Popcorn first and second-rounders
Last year in Paris was a special year for teenagers with three reaching the round of 16 and two going on to the semis or better. So we’ll start this segment with another wunderkind, 16-year-old Coco Gauff, who faces Johanna Konta in round one. Konta was a semi-finalist last year in Paris, after entering the main draw with a 0-4 lifetime record at the French. Is this too big a challenge for Gauff? We’re dying to find out.
If you like former champs – and who doesn’t? – why not check out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova against 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. This first-rounder has third-set tiebreaker written all over it.
If it happens in round two, Jelena Ostapenko (former champ) facing No 2 seed Karolina Pliskova would be worth a tub of popcorn. Or two.
First weekend match-ups we’re looking forward to
The women’s draw is very well balanced and loaded with talent. There are numerous third round match-ups that could be dreamy.
Simona Halep vs Amanda Anisimova could be a doozy, as could Garbiñe Muguruza vs Jennifer Brady. We think Halep and Muguruza would come through, but the Americans always have a few tricks up their sleeves in Paris.
The roughest quarter
This one’s too tough to call on the women’s side. Each quarter is loaded with former Grand Slam champions, finalists, legends and surging stars. We’re calling it a four-way tie.
Taking into account the fact that we should expect the unexpected in Paris due to the autumnal conditions that threaten to have a significant impact on the tennis, our enthusiasm for projected round of 16 must be tempered by caution. That said, we’ve got a few dream matchups in mind that would be perfect to kick off week two:
- Serena Wiliams v Victoria Azarenka: The pair have met 23 times, but never at Roland-Garros.
- Elena Rybakina v Sofia Kenin: A round of 16 battle between the two breakout stars of January and February 2020 would be a nice follow-through for both.
- Coco Gauff v Svetlana Kuznetsova: Because who doesn’t love a good generational battle?
- Elina Svitolina v Elise Mertens: Tactical nuance, clay-court efficiency and relentless movement. This one would be a classic counterpuncher brawl.
Popcorn first and second-rounders
It’s unfortunate that Roberto Bautista Agut and Richard Gasquet are slated to meet in round one. It’d be nice to see both reel off a couple of wins in Paris. Nevertheless it will nice to watch these two consummate pros do battle, even if the French crowds can’t pack the joint and go crazy. We’ll also be keyed into Jannik Sinner vs. David Goffin. Sinner is certainly a rising star, but Goffin is a seasoned pro that knows how to handle all situations.
When it comes to popcorn first-rounders there’s only one true marquee match-up on the men’s side and that one features 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka and 2016 runner-up Andy Murray. Yes, we know both players are past their prime, but fans watching this match will have the sense that they are catching a shooting star. One last glimpse of that peak Muzza or Stanimal, one last chapter of a brilliantly stylized career, that ties together a legacy and an emotion, and turns it into a tearjerker.
First weekend matchups we’re looking forward to
Stefanos Tsitsipas needs to come through with the goods at a slam. Filip Krajinovic is a stellar Serb on the rise once again. If these two meet in the third round expect a ferocious battle for the right to play the second week.
How good a clay-courter is Norway’s Casper Ruud? If he reaches the third round and faces Dominic Thiem, we just might find out.
The killer quarter
On the men’s side the quarter of death belongs to 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem. Welcome to the land of the dirty double-cross draw, Mr. Thiem, your reward is having to go through a gauntlet of menacing men just to make the second week.
Dominic Thiem's WICKED path to the final (if seeds hold)
— Tennis Majors (@Tennis_Majors) September 25, 2020
And, because you were so inspiring in New York earlier this month, we’ve thrown Rafael Nadal in your half of the draw as well. Best wishes, kiddo.
What would be a classic round of 16 match-up on the men’s side at Roland-Garros in 2020? Here’s what we’re thinking…
- Rafael Nadal v Fabio Fognini: Nobody expects much from the Italian this year at Roland-Garros, but we all know how good he can be.
- Dominic Thiem v Stan Wawrinka: Come for the booming backhands, stay to see if Wawrinka has more magic left in that 35-year-old body.
- Stefanos Tsitsipas v Denis Shapovalov: No guarantees that either of these players will make week two, but if they both pull it off the excitement around this match would be amazing.
- Gael Monfils v Diego Schwartzman: Even without packed houses everybody needs a little showtime.
- Also see: Paris will be tough conditions for Nadal on clay
- Also read: Roland-Garros: 13 Facts that could define the tournament
- Also read: Fan experience at Roland-Garros limited further by French government