Day 6: Three things to look out for

The young guns might be taking centre stage, but the old guard still has something to say

Carlos Alcaraz, Sebastian Korda, Roland Garros 2022, practice© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT
 - Stephanie Livaudais

The explosiveness of youth versus a veteran’s experience: we’ll get the chance to test out tennis’ age-old debate when rising stars and Grand Slam champions meet on Friday at Roland-Garros.  

Here are three things to look out for as players vie for a place in the second week in Paris. 

Alcaraz targets revenge on Korda

When the Roland-Garros draw was made, eagle-eyed tennis fans circled this potential third-round blockbuster between 21-year-old Sebastian Korda and 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz.

The two talented youngsters have been carving out a name for themselves on tour, and both have been tipped as tennis’ next big thing.

But while Korda’s progress has been slow and steady, the Spaniard has rocketed up the rankings this season, winning two Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid and two 500-level clay-court trophies in Barcelona and Rio.

“It's great that people talk about (me), think that I'm going to be No.1 in the world, but of course it's a little bit pressure on me,” Alcaraz said after his second-round win.

“(Being) No.1 in the world is my dream since I start playing tennis.

“I'm working harder on it, but trying not to think about it.”

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland-Garros 2022, second round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Korda will give him plenty to think about during their first Court Philippe-Chatrier night session.

The pair have split their previous meetings at one win apiece, with Alcaraz winning in the final of the ATP NextGen Finals and Korda claiming revenge in a rollercoaster three-set battle last month in Monte-Carlo.

The American, son of 1992 Roland-Garros runner-up Petr Korda, has plenty of clay-court prowess with his lone title coming on the surface last year in Parma.

He also owns the distinction of being the last player to defeat Alcaraz before he embarked on a 12-match winning streak – can he spoil the teenager’s party again in Paris?

Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Next Gen ATP Finals 2021© Giorgio Maiozzi/FFT

Generational clashes

While the youth takes centre stage in the night session, generational clashes headline the women’s order of play.

Before Alcaraz and Korda get going, French teenager Diane Parry will aim for another upset over a Grand Slam champion as she faces 29-year-old Sloane Stephens in the final day match on Chatrier.

The 19-year-old upended the bottom half of the draw when she ousted defending champion and world No.2 Barbora Krejcikova in her opening match.

She then took down Camila Osorio to make the third round: her best result at a Grand Slam to date.

“I feel I'm at home,” said Parry, who resides in nearby Boulogne-Billancourt.

“I practise here throughout the year, but this time there's this special atmosphere, there's the crowd, they're very happy to be here, and they enjoy all the matches and all the players they see.”

A similar story will play out when 18-year-old Coco Gauff and 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi meet in the second match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Don’t let their age difference fool you: Kanepi reinforced her status as a Grand Slam giant-slayer when she took out 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza.

And the Estonian has been known to give 18th seed Gauff trouble in the past: when they met in Parma last year, both sets went to a tiebreak but the match ultimately went to the American.

Dimitrov, Kerber eye second week

But who says it’s all about the kids on Friday at Roland-Garros? The old guard still have something to say, and they’ll make themselves heard on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Before the tournament began, neither No.18 seed Grigor Dimitrov nor No.21 seed Angelique Kerber were a shoo-in for the second week.

Dimitrov has made the fourth round just once in his career, and Kerber, a two-time quarter-finalist in Paris, recorded first-round exits in her previous three appearances.

But with a bit of momentum on their side, they’ll hope to turn that record around.

Dimitrov made a statement with his semi-final appearance in Monte-Carlo, where he defeated clay heavyweight Casper Ruud and No.11 seed Hubert Hurkacz along the way.

Grigor Dimitrov, R2, Roland-Garros 2022Clement Mahoudeau / FFT

The 31-year-old will face another dirtballer in the form of Diego Schwartzman, who survived a five-set battle with Jaume Munar in the previous round.

While their head-to-head favours Dimitrov 3-1, they’ve actually split their clay-court meetings, with Dimitrov winning their most recent one easily last month in Madrid.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Kerber has enjoyed a clay-court renaissance in recent weeks, capped off by a run to her 14th career title in Strasbourg.

The 34-year-old will take on a player she defeated at that tournament, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, hoping to extend her head-to-head dominance over the 28-year-old to 3-0.

Angelique Kerber, R1, Roland-Garros 2022Clement Mahoudeau / FFT