French Open: Novak Djokovic Facing Tricky Roland Garros Opener

Updated: 27 May 2019 09:50 IST

Novak Djokovic faces Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, who has had an excellent 2019 so far, rising to 43rd in the rankings after runs to the last 16 in Madrid and the Indian Wells quarter-finals.

 

Novak Djokovic begins his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title on Monday against Poland's Hubert Hurkacz at Roland Garros, while Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal also open their campaigns. On Day 1, Roger Federer claimed a comfortable win in his first Roland Garros match since 2015 while young contender Stefanos Tsitsipas also cruised into the second round. In the women's draw, second seed Karolina Pliskova makes strong start, beating Madison Brengle in straight sets while 38-year-old Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber crashed out.

Here, AFP Sport looks at three matches to watch on the second day of the French Open.

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

-- First meeting

World number one Djokovic can become only the second man in history to hold all four Grand Slams simultaneously twice if he triumphs in Paris.

The 32-year-old has completely turned his fortunes around since dropping out of the world's top 20 last year following a shock quarter-final loss to Marco Cecchinato. Victory at Wimbledon was his first at a major since 2016, and he has since added two more to move to 15 in total -- behind only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the all-time list.

But Djokovic may not have things all his own way against the 22-year-old Hurkacz on Court Philippe Chatrier. The Pole has had an excellent 2019 so far, rising to 43rd in the rankings after runs to the last 16 in Madrid and the Indian Wells quarter-finals.

Serena Williams (USA x10) v Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS)

-- Serena Williams leads head-to-head 1-0

Serena Williams arrives in Paris still looking for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title having failed to lift a major title since returning last year after giving birth to her daughter.

But the American has only played four matches since losing to Karolina Pliskova at the Australian Open, struggling for form and fitness.

All eyes will be on her as she returns to Roland Garros on Monday, having withdrawn from the tournament 12 months ago ahead of a scheduled last-16 clash against old rival Maria Sharapova.

Russian Diatchenko is ranked a lowly 82nd in the world, and retired from her only previous match against Williams at the 2015 US Open while trailing 6-0, 2-0.

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) v Yannick Hanfmann (GER)

-- First meeting

Nadal starts his tilt at a record-extending 12th Roland Garros title against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the second match on Chatrier.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion comes into the tournament as the second seed, and having beaten old foe Djokovic in the Italian Open final. Nadal holds an incredible 86-2 win-loss record in the French Open, having only lost to Robin Soderling and Djokovic since making his tournament debut in 2005.

World number 184 Hanfmann has come through three rounds of qualifying to set up the once-in-a-lifetime clash in Paris, but thinks being partially deaf could be a slight advantage.

"A centre court full of spectators doesn't affect me," he told German daily Bild in an interview.

Comments
Topics mentioned in this article Novak Djokovic Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Serena Williams Tennis
Highlights
  • Novak Djokovic begins his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title
  • Novak Djokovic will face Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the opening round
  • Rafael Nadal takes on German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann
Related Articles
French Open Winner Rafael Nadal Still Lagging Novak Djokovic In ATP Rankings
French Open Winner Rafael Nadal Still Lagging Novak Djokovic In ATP Rankings
Dominic Thiem Ends Novak Djokovic History Bid, Faces Rafael Nadal In French Open Final
Dominic Thiem Ends Novak Djokovic History Bid, Faces Rafael Nadal In French Open Final
Gone With The Wind As Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem Blown Off Course At Roland Garros
Gone With The Wind As Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem Blown Off Course At Roland Garros
"Shameful": Roland Garros Sexism Row Over "Unfair" Women
"Shameful": Roland Garros Sexism Row Over "Unfair" Women's Semifinals Shift
Novak Djokovic To Face Dominic Thiem In His Ninth Roland Garros Semifinal
Novak Djokovic To Face Dominic Thiem In His Ninth Roland Garros Semifinal
Advertisement