The top halves of the men’s and women’s draws return to court on Day 5 at Roland-Garros as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer meet familiar foes, while Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek push their respective causes for a second crown.
Day 5: Three things to look out for
Second round action concludes on Thursday with champions Nadal, Federer, Barty and Swiatek in action
Nadal, Federer meet familiar foes
It is 41 years since Vitas Gerulaitis famously quipped: “Let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row.” The American had just broken a 16-match losing streak to defeat Jimmy Connors for the first time at the season-ending 1979 Masters in New York.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet would love nothing more than to walk off Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday echoing the same.
The 34-year-old will look to snap a 0-16 record against 13-time champion Nadal. After the pair’s first five clashes went to a deciding set, Gasquet has not snaffled a set since 2008.
Twice in six months 20-time major champion Roger Federer squared off against Marin Cilic in a Grand Slam final.
The Swiss had the better of the 2014 US Open champion in a lop-sided 2017 Wimbledon final before Cilic pushed him to five sets in the 2018 Australian Open final.
While the Croatian has fallen from his then lofty mark of world No.3 to his current No.47, Federer comes in having played only four matches in 16 months after two knee surgeries.
Federer leads the pair’s head-to-head ledger 9-1, though, and after swatting aside Denis Istomin’s challenge in the opening round, will favour his chances when he meets Cilic at the only major missing from their rivalry.
Italian men continue their charge
It is getting crowded in Italian men’s tennis and on Thursday their spearhead, ninth seed Matteo Berrettini leads a contingent of six in action. A champion in Belgrade on clay last month and a finalist in Madrid, the 25-year-old meets Argentine Federico Coria, while the only two 19-year-olds in the top 100, 18th seed Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti also take the court.
“I think this is the proof that I have the level, this level,” Musetti said following his win over Goffin. “For sure I am playing better when I'm without pressure because today, I was playing really relaxed. Of course, it was not easy to win even if I was relaxed… For me today was not a must to win. It was doing experience and stuff like that. I took the win and I'm really proud of what I did.”
The veteran of the pack, Andreas Seppi, meets Kwon Soonwoo of South Korea, while 2018 Roland-Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato looks to repeat his upset last year of Australian Alex De Minaur. At the end of the day’s play, five of the six could still be standing with former world No.9 Fabio Fognini still alive in the bottom half. Viva l’Italia indeed.
Women’s champions on a roll
Two women extended their Roland-Garros winning streaks to eight on Tuesday in contrasting fashion.
Top seed and 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty overcame a left hip injury and plucky American lefty Bernarda Pera in three sets, while last year’s champion Iga Swiatek gifted herself the perfect 20th birthday present with a straight-sets triumph over best friend Kaja Juvan.
On Thursday, Barty’s hip will be put to the test when she meets Swiatek’s Polish compatriot, 45th-ranked Magda Linette, for the first time. Eighth seed Swiatek also has a first-time assignment against Swedish world No.60 Rebecca Peterson.
“I think every match that I play in, every different experience, whether it's I guess an opponent or a physical challenge, I feel like you learn to overcome it and you learn to accept it,” Barty said. “I can guarantee that I will go out there with the right attitude every day and be really accepting of that and give it a crack no matter what.”