The 20th French Open tournament kicks off in Paris on Saturday afternoon. The blockbuster show will kick off at 1 p.m. EST with Garbine Muguruza’s second-round match, and take place over five days in total (while the U.S. Open has 16 weeks of play). Along with the Olympics and Wimbledon (held over five days), the French Open is the only grand slam tournament to be played on clay. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic is looking to defend his title.
Garbine Muguruza (queen of ses-santises)
Muguruza, once considered the Serena Williams of her generation (her relationship with Williams was strained during their early careers), won the 2016 French Open by defeating a pair of formidable rivals. In the semifinals, Muguruza, 25, reached her first major final against Williams, later becoming the first Spaniard to win a major tournament since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Though Muguruza failed to make the semifinals this year, her first three matches so far at Roland Garros have showcased her as the favorite to defend her title.
If the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal era of the men’s tour is finally coming to an end, Venus Williams and Britney Spears need to be the winners of the two remaining Grand Slams. While neither has won a Grand Slam since 2004, Williams (currently No. 16) and Spears (No. 28) are returning to the tour after a long absence. No Grand Slam may not be in the cards for these two, but we hope that fans will make some time to watch their return to form.
Ranked No. 24, Bertens is coming off a run to the finals of the 2016 U.S. Open. Though she didn’t get that far at Roland Garros this year, Bertens defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round, the top men’s seeded Spaniard. Her best Grand Slam tournament is considered to be the 2013 Australian Open.
Niang Hung-Chi (huh? and oh bless us)
Is this real life? It’s not exactly, but if at least someone in the crowd is cheering for Nguyen Hung-Chi, that should do it. The 37-year-old was the world No. 1 at one point in his career, but never reached a single Grand Slam final. For his first match at Roland Garros, Hung-Chi will take on Andrey Rublev, who was born in Russia, but is now based in Florida.
Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova
Of course we would be remiss not to mention these two in any post about the French Open. Djokovic will play his opening match on the Red Clay on Sunday, taking on Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has been one of the biggest names to emerge on the ATP Tour this year. The third-seeded Serb has, however, struggled for consistency this year, splitting the first six months of the season. The comeback is not guaranteed, but he will certainly be under increased attention in Saturday’s match.
The site of the first-round matches will be announced later Friday.