Day 4: Three things to look out for

 - Stephanie Livaudais

The dream match that never was, a rivalry that could have been, and a rematch that might prove epic.

There are storylines galore during the fortnight in Paris; here are three things we’re looking out for as second-round action begins on Wednesday at Roland-Garros.

A rivalry interrupted restarts in Paris

One of the most intriguing match-ups of the day closes out the day session on Court Philippe-Chatrier, as No.14 seed Belinda Bencic meets the resurgent Bianca Andreescu.

When these two faced off in 2019, they treated fans to an entertaining US Open semi-final as two players blessed with power and variety pulled out every trick from their arsenals in an attempt to outsmart and outplay the other. Andreescu won that one 7-6(3), 7-5 and then went on to win her first Grand Slam title.

Many hoped this would be the first of many battles between them, but life had other ideas.

The pair have since been on diverging paths, with Bencic rising to world No.4, taking home two Olympic medals for Switzerland, and reestablishing herself as a force on the tour.

Belinda Bencic, R1, Roland-Garros 2022Philippe Montigny / FFT

Andreescu, on the other hand, struggled with injuries that often sidelined her for long stretches at a time. Coupled with the stress of the pandemic, the 21-year-old Canadian briefly pondered retirement but the call of tennis was too strong. 

“I feel like I have gained a lot of wisdom throughout my time off, and I feel fresher and maybe more motivated,” Andreescu said.

With both players working their way back to top form, this second-round clash has all the makings of a classic. Bencic, who lifted her first clay-court trophy in Charleston this year, eased past Reka Luca Jani in the first round, while Rome quarter-finalist Andreescu is battle tested after a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 win over Ysaline Bonaventure.

Bianca Andreescu, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Moutet gets long-awaited Nadal nightcap

For wildcard Corentin Moutet, 13-time Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal is more than just a childhood idol. He’s also the one that got away.

Three years ago at his home Slam, Moutet was one win away from his dream clash. Juan Ignacio Londero stood between him and Nadal in the fourth round, but a heartbreaking defeat in the fifth set kept the Frenchman from that meeting.

The 23-year-old is finally getting his shot at Nadal, and in the best way possible: under the lights of Court Philippe-Chatrier’s night session.

Now, the world No.139 will have to put his fandom aside — and hide his Nadal tank top away — as he attempts to pull off a major upset in the second round.

Corentin Moutet, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“He's no longer my idol because now I'm on the tour, but I started playing tennis while watching him,” Moutet said, after his first-round win over Stan Wawrinka. “I remember his first Grand Slam. I even imitated him when I was a kid…

“I was sleeping with [his Roland-Garros] tank top [when] I was a kid... I was imitating his serve. I was a lefty, so he was my inspiration.”

Unfortunately for Moutet, he will also be up against Nadal’s impressive record against French opposition: the Spaniard is 103-14 in his career. At Roland-Garros, the 21-time Grand Slam winner has never lost to a French opponent on nine occasions.

Rafael Nadal, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

A familiar foe for Zverev on Chatrier

For the second time in as many weeks, Alexander Zverev will take on fast-rising Sebastian Baez in the second round of a clay-court event.

When the pair met in Rome, Zverev quickly learned why the 21-year-old has been tipped as Argentina’s next big tennis star.

Baez, who began last season ranked outside the ATP’s top 300, was on an eight-match winning streak that saw him lift his first ATP trophy in Estoril and qualify for the main draw in Rome. He pushed Zverev to the brink across two sets, but the world No.3 raised his level in the second to close out a 7-6(6), 6-3 win.

Sebastian Baez, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Andre Ferreira/FFT

Zverev will be hoping the Argentine, now ranked a career-high No.36, won’t have made many more great strides since their previous meeting. The German has put together solid results throughout the European clay swing, reaching the semi-finals or better at all three ATP Masters 1000 events played on the surface including a run to the final in Madrid.  

Last year’s semi-finalist at Roland-Garros, Zverev seems to have already found his footing early on the terre battue. He served up 13 aces during his first-round victory over qualifier Sebastian Ofner, and looks primed to keep the momentum going when he faces Baez in the second match on Court Philippe-Chatrier.