Day 2: Things to look out for


Thiem faces Cilic in battle of US Open champions, Williams and Nadal begin record bids

Dominic Thiem, Roland-Garros 2020, practice©Clément Mahoudeau

First-round action hits full swing on Day 2 of Roland-Garros 2020 as players from both ends of the draws attempt to open their campaigns with a win.

Last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem has his first taste of competing as a Grand Slam champion in a tough opener on Monday against fellow US Open winner, Marin Cilic.

Two champions – Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal – are also in action as they begin their respective pursuits to tie all-time marks.

Here's our pick of three things to keep an eye out for on Day 2.

Thiem grapples with emotions as newest slam champ

His family and friends were unable to share in his celebrations at becoming the newest Grand Slam champion in New York this month.

So it stood to reason Thiem was eager to rest his body and savour a homecoming like none before. 

It meant, however, this would be the first time he arrived at what was traditionally his strongest Slam without a single match on clay leading in.


The Austrian, who practised with Novak Djokovic on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Saturday, admitted he had just six days to acclimatise.

He will bank on momentum and confidence to substitute a lack of match play and will need every bit of it when the current US Open champion meets former US Open champion, Cilic.

Thiem owns a 3-0 record against the Croat – all on hard court, including a four-set third-round clash on his successful US Open run earlier this month.

“I felt great coming here because, I've achieved such a big goal,” Thiem said. “I'll see how I handle all the emotions, also all the physical challenges, which happened in New York.

“In the past, I was not that great playing the tournaments, after big titles like Indian Wells last year or Vienna. I've always played not that great the following week. I will try to do it differently here in Paris.”

Serena opens 10th campaign for 24

In a repeat of their all-American first-round showdown at this month’s US Open, three-time champion Serena Williams begins her 10th bid for a record-equalling 24th major.

The sixth seed – who turned 39 on Saturday – beat the 102nd-ranked Kristie Ahn in straight sets in New York before Victoria Azarenka halted her charge in the semi-finals.

In a “really rare year” Williams skipped clay-court lead-up events and flew straight from New York to the south of France to begin training and rehab at coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy.

A semi-final at a major is a decent run in most people’s books. Not so for Williams. Anything less than the trophy in Paris will be considered in her eyes as coming up short.

“I think a semi-final is always great,” Williams said in Paris. “Is it great for me? Absolutely not. That's just how I feel. That's how I always feel.

“There was nothing I could do in the end. It was what it was. I mean, I'm in a position in my career where I cannot be satisfied. I don't want to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I'm happy’, because I'm not.”

Nadal ready to rebound from Rome defeat

Williams is not alone in attempting to draw level on a slam tally record with 12-time champion Nadal also in the hunt this Roland-Garros.

The Spaniard, seeded No.2, could tie Roger Federer’s mark of 20 majors with an unparalleled 13th title in what would be his 100th match win on the terre battue in Paris.

Beaten only twice in 14 appearances at Roland-Garros, Nadal will face Belarusian world No.83 Egor Gerasimov in his first match since falling to Diego Schwartzman in the Rome quarter-finals.

Gerasimov’s best results this year have all been on hard courts. He reached the final in Pune, India

“Of course, the preparation have been less than usual, but you know what? I am here to fight and to play with the highest intensity possible, to practise with the right attitude, to give [myself] a chance,” Nadal said.

“That's the main goal for me. Be competitive on Monday, and let's try. Just day by day. I know this place very well. It is about being patient, being positive, just trying to find the positive vibes every single day.” 

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