2011 French Open Schedule: 10 First-Round Matches to Watch for Potential Upsets
For some of the top men and women at the French Open, starting Sunday, the trip to Paris for the year's second Grand Slam can be over before they know it.
Going up against someone with solid clay-court credentials or a rocket serve is usually the last thing a top seed wants to face right off the bat. But that's the luck of the draw sometimes and not even Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer are immune: They're matched against big-hitting John Isner and crafty lefty Feliciano Lopez, respectively.
Nadal and Federer should be more than okay though. Following are some matchups that can go against the heralded player.
Sam Querrey (24) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
2011 has not gone as planned for the hard-hitting American.
Heading into the French last year, Querrey had already won two titles, including one on the European red clay.
This year, he brings a sub-.500 season record into the tournament. Kohlschreiber is very solid and has had success at the French in the past, with a win over Novak Djokovic in 2009.
This is as close to a lock-upset pick one can make for the tournament.
Fernando Verdasco (16) vs. Juan Monaco
Surprisingly, this one is a near-lock as well.
Verdasco's place in the Top 10 was, until recently, as solid as one can imagine. The big-hitting lefty looked to be equally comfortable on both the hard and clay courts, but for whatever reason over the past year, the wheels appear to have come off.
Monaco has never cracked the Top 10, but is always a threat on clay and has led Argentina into this weekend's World Team Cup finals. Verdasco could find himself on the short end after this match.
Petra Kvitova (9) vs. Greta Arn
Kvitova is playing the best tennis of her young career right now, as seen by her title-winning run at the WTA Tour stop in Madrid a couple of weeks ago and a spot in the Top 10.
However, Arn hasn't been playing too bad herself lately: The veteran is coming off a quarterfinal appearance at the Italian Open and has been in the winner's circle this year, too—taking home the big prize in Auckland early in the season.
Kvitova could have her hands full.
Samantha Stosur (8) vs. Iveta Benesova
Almost as shocking last year as Francesca Schiavone winning the French Open was Samantha Stosur making the finals. Stosur does have a knack for the dirt and is coming off her first final of the year at last week's Italian Open. Her play over the past year hasn't exactly screamed "dominant" and it's hard to say just how good of form she's in. Benesova's been in the top 25 before and her two career titles have come on clay. This could be a tricky one for the Aussie Stosur.
Mardy Fish (10) vs. Ricardo Mello
Fish—aka "Mr. America"—has seen improve dramatically over the past year. The only American, male or female, ranked in the Top 10, Fish is usually at his best on faster surfaces.
He's a solid clay-court player, though, and is coming off a run to the third round at the Italian Open. But while he's never won a match at the French Open, the veteran Mello is the kind of player that can give a big hitter like Fish fits.
Jelena Jankovic (10) vs. Alona Bondarenko
Remember when Jelena Jankovic was making French Open semifinals a regular thing, like last year, for instance? How about when she was the No. 1 player in the world?
That's a bit of a ways back.
The only thing that's really been consistent about Jankovic the past couple of years has been her inconsistency.
Bondarenko has been a bit off the rails recently, but has had decent wins in the past. She's no one's easy out, and could potentially test the 10th seed.
Marcos Baghdatis (27) vs. Frederico Gil
Baghdatis is one of the most talented ball strikers in the game today, but for a variety of reasons—from injury to motivation—has had some ups and downs over the years.
Despite having made the round of 16 at the French Open in 2007, he's never been a great clay-court player: His record on the surface this year is 2-5.
Gil isn't exactly a great clay-court player, either (Rafael Nadal: Now that's a great one!), but he is playing on his favorite surface.
This one should be considered a lock upset as well.
Jarmila Gajdosova (24) vs. Virginie Razzano
This one could be based on who handles their off-court issues better: Gajdosova is coming off a divorce, while Razzano will be playing with a heavy heart, following the death of her fiance.
Gajdosova hasn't let her personal life overshadow her game, but Razzano could be tough first up as she's sure to draw on the support of the home crowd.
Juan Martin Del Potro (25) vs. Ivo Karlovic
One of the most-anticipated matches at this year's French Open is a potential third-round match between the unbeaten Novak Djokovic and everyone's favorite comeback story, del Potro, who's risen more than 400 spots in the rankings in the past few months.
But del Potro's first-round opponent shouldn't be overlooked: Karlovic is the biggest server in the game, arguably in its history, and is always a threat, particularly to someone still getting over an injury.
Yanina Wickmayer (21) vs. Monica Niculescu
If she's not able to overcome the injury she suffered at her hometown tournament in Brussels, this one could be over before you know it for the young Belgian Wickmayer. Niculescu is close to her career-high ranking hit a couple of weeks ago and was already poised to give Wickmayer some problems.
If Wickmayer recovers in time before this match, it has the potential to be a really good one.