Day 7: Three things to look out for

An all-Next Gen showdown, blockbuster women's duels and two former junior champs are in store

Hugo Gaston, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Stephanie Livaudais

Win or lose, it’s all about the friendships that we made along the way. Right?

Not if you’re a tennis player at Roland-Garros on Saturday. It’s a no-holds-barred battle in the land of fraternité as the first week of the tournament comes to a close.

Here are three things we’re looking out for on Day 7.

Gaston and Rune set friendship aside

If you want a glimpse into the future of tennis, all you need is a ticket to the Court Philippe-Chatrier night session.

After Sebastian Korda and Carlos Alcaraz put on a show for the fans on Friday, it's now the turn of 19-year-old Holger Rune and 21-year-old Hugo Gaston to put their own skills on display.

A lefty with a mean drop shot, Gaston has a history of pulling off big wins and major upsets in Paris.

When he made his Roland-Garros debut in 2020 ranked outside the top 200, he knocked out 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka and pushed two-time finalist Dominic Thiem to five sets before bowing out in the fourth round, his best Grand Slam result to date.

And last year, across town in Bercy, he made another big breakthrough to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final, taking down Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz along the way.

Can he do the same against Rune on Saturday evening? It will be the pair’s first meeting, but not their first time sharing a court: they were doubles partners in Marseille back in February.

“We know each other really well,” Gaston said. “We get along really well. We also played doubles in Marseille this year and we played well. He's a very nice guy on and off the court.

“He's a friend, but not on court.”

Besties Badosa, Sabalenka hope to avoid upset bug

While a number of high-seeded women in the bottom half of the draw have already bowed out, the top half is stacked with 10 of the 16 seeds taking their place in the third round.

No.3 Paula Badosa and No.7 Aryna Sabalenka are among those looking to capitalise on the chance to lift their first Grand Slam trophy in Paris.

The former doubles partners could even meet in the quarter-finals, but they will have to overcome some big hurdles to get there.

Playing third on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Badosa will face Veronika Kudermetova for the third time this season.

While Badosa defeated her in Indian Wells and Madrid, the Russian owns the lead in their global head-to-head, having won the three previous match-ups. They have split their two meetings on clay, on Badosa’s favourite surface.

Sabalenka, a player who can blast anyone off the court with her booming groundstrokes, will meet another big hitter in the mercurial No.28 seed Camila Giorgi on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

The Belarusian has amassed strong results throughout the clay-court swing. She reached the Stuttgart final and semi-finals in Rome, bowing out to world No.1 Iga Swiatek on both occasions.

It will be Sabalenka and Giorgi’s third meeting (1-1), with Sabalenka hoping to make it 2-0 on clay courts.

Aryna Sabalenka, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Loïc Wacziak/FFT

Former junior champs seek second-week spots

On Court 14, two players who have already lifted Roland-Garros trophies will battle for a spot in the second week as No.7 seed Andrey Rublev takes on Cristian Garin.

Nowadays, the Russian is better known for his hard-court prowess – thanks in part to his huge, flat groundstrokes.

He’s got solid clay-court chops, too. Rublev won the juniors title on these courts in 2014 and claimed his first ATP title on clay in 2017.

Andrey Rublev, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Last year, he also broke through to his first Masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo on the surface he considers to be “real tennis”.

He also recorded a win over world No.1 Novak Djokovic on the Serbian’s home tournament in Belgrade in the build-up to Roland-Garros.

Garin, who won the juniors title here one year before Rublev, has had a more low-key clay-court swing this year. But the Chilean has already started Roland-Garros with a bang, taking out No.30 seed Tommy Paul in the first round.

Rublev leads Garin 2-0 in their previous meetings, including a clay-court victory in Hamburg.

Cristian Garin, Roland-Garros 2022, third round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT