Popcorn matches: Day four

 - Alex Sharp

Nishikori v Tsonga second-round clash a rematch of their scintillating 2015 quarter-final.

Kei Nishikori© Julien Crosnier / FFT

The second round is upon us in Paris, and here, the matches go up a notch.

> ORDER OF PLAY: Day 4 - Wednesday 29 May

We preview some of the contests you cannot afford to miss on Wednesday, Day 4 at Roland-Garros.

Kei Nishikori v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

“Allez Jo!” The familiar call for home favourite Tsonga, who is looking to surge back into prominence with this blockbuster. The Frenchman missed Roland-Garros last summer due to left knee surgery, but has climbed back up the rankings from No.262 last November to his current standing of No.82.

Nishikori leads their head-to-head at 5-3, however, Tsonga won their last meeting at the Paris Masters in 2016. The duo also had a spectacular five-set quarter-final here at Roland-Garros back in 2015, which will bring back special memories for Tsonga.

Fit and firing on all cylinders, Tsonga will be a real threat to seventh seed Nishikori, especially if he can orchestrate the crowd to provide another raucous atmosphere.

Petra Martic v Kristina Mladenovic

Martic, the 31st seed, is enjoying some of the finest form of her career; the Croatian lost just three games to dispatch Ons Jabeur at the first hurdle in Paris.

Martic, 13-2 on clay in 2019, enjoyed an impressive build up to Roland-Garros which included her maiden WTA title at the Istanbul Cup. That title triumph included an absorbing 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2) quarter-final victory over Mladenovic.



That three-hour battle indicates this should be another finely poised contest, with Mladenovic rejuvenated under the guidance of esteemed coach Sascha Bajin. His key message is to play without fear of any opponent. On top of that, 2017 Roland-Garros quarter-finalist Mladenovic relishes the ardent French support and will look to harness that for another standout moment on home soil.

Grigor Dimitrov v Marin Cilic

On paper this encounter points to towering Croatian Cilic heading into the third round. The 2014 US Open champion commands their previous record at 4-1 and eased through his opening round against Thomas Fabbiano in straight sets.

Dimitrov is out of form and down at world No.46, but will enthral with his all-court artillery. His five-set passage past veteran Janko Tipsarevic demonstrated the Bulgarian’s determination to prolong his stay in Paris.

Cilic will bring his firepower and consistency, but Dimitrov can never be discounted due to his vast array of shots. If the net play and sizzling single-handed backhand are in the zone, we are set for a treat.

Kiki Bertens v Viktoria Kuzmova

Two matches this year, two three-set thrillers.

Bertens has emerged as a true title contender courtesy of defeating last year’s Roland-Garros finalist Sloane Stephens then Simona Halep to lift the trophy in Madrid.

The world No.4 also advanced to the Rome semi-finals, before transferring her recent form to Paris by dismissing local charge Pauline Parmentier in straight sets.

However, Kuzmova clearly knows how to battle with Bertens, taking the honours in a third set tie-break back in Dubai, before Bertens gained revenge in Miami. The fourth seed will be wary of Kuzmova’s fearless striking and must dictate the rhythm to outmanoeuvre the Slovakian youngster.

Cristian Garin v Stan Wawrinka

You’ll need extra popcorn for this cracker.

Settle in as 2015 champion Wawrinka comes up against one of the in-form players on the Tour.

World No.37 Garin proved his potential by winning the 2013 boys title in Paris and has converted that promise during a captivating 2019 campaign.

Nineteen clay-court match wins for the season includes titles in Houston and Munich on the road to Roland-Garros. His first-round triumph in Paris was a maiden Grand Slam victory and it was an impressively mature display to topple Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

Wawrinka, the 24th seed, is enthralling to watch when in the groove but the Swiss continues to strive for consistency, adding an extra element to this intriguing encounter.

*Find out how to follow all the Roland-Garros 2019 action on TV here.