Men’s popcorn R1s: Tsitsipas' tricky first test

 - Alex Sharp

A string of blockbuster openers are in store this upcoming fortnight in Paris

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland Garros 2022, practice © Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Ready to plot their path to glory, the players found out their fate in the Roland-Garros 2022 singles draws on Thursday night.

Here are some stand-out first-round clashes you won’t want to miss from the men's side.

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [4]

You’ll need more than one bag of popcorn for this absolute cracker.

Cast your mind back to Roland-Garros 2021 and Lorenzo Musetti was firing hotshots for fun to lead world No.1 Novak Djokovic by two sets, before the eventual champion roared back to claim their fourth-round tussle.

One of the title favourites Stefanos Tsitsipas knows that feeling too, having also led Djokovic by two sets in the final on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Two supreme talents, two graceful single-handed backhands. This is going to be sublime.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) v Corentin Moutet (FRA)

On his day at full throttle very few can contain the raw power of Stan Wawrinka.

‘Stanimal’ was at his very best when he blasted to the 2015 title in Paris but has endured a frustrating stint on the sidelines in recent campaigns with injuries and two foot surgeries.


The Swiss has been showing glimpses of his best form, having posted a couple of victories at the Rome Masters earlier this month.

Over the net, the flamboyant left-handed home charge Corentin Moutet will be as unpredictable, explosive and flashy as ever. Expect some cracking rallies and sizzling shot-making.

Casper Ruud (NOR) v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

Over the years ‘Allez Jo’ has been a frequent call from the stands at Roland-Garros. However, home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has announced that this will be his last ever tournament.

The 37-year-old will need to rally the ardent crowd behind him to tackle the all-court artillery of eighth seed Casper Ruud.

The Norwegian is more than comfortable on the terre battue, but can Tsonga conjure up another memorable moment on his cherished courts?

Tsonga has enjoyed a host of special moments at Roland-Garros during his captivating career.©Philippe Montigny / FFT

Denis Shapovalov (CAN) [14] v Holger Rune (DEN)

This will be the first meeting between these two powerhouses.

Denis Shapovalov has been on the major stage for six seasons now, his arching single-handed backhand the spearhead of a lethal attack.

The 23-year-old has only passed the first round twice in Paris and will be wary of the force pinging off the racket of the Danish teenager.

Holger Rune has been picking up impressive results regularly, most noticeably lifting the Munich title on clay earlier this month.  

Hugo Gaston (FRA) v Alex de Minaur (AUS) [19]

Slicing and dicing with his graceful game and cunning drop shots, Hugo Gaston was one of the key storylines at Roland-Garros 2020.

The 21-year-old took out Wawrinka in five sets, before pushing two-time finalist Dominic Thiem the distance.

Gaston will need all his craft and feel to disrupt the rhythm of roadrunner Alex de Minaur. The Australian has been enjoying a stellar clay campaign with a semi-final showing in Barcelona and fourth round spot at the Rome Masters.

Cat and mouse rallies galore should be on the menu.