Day 3: Three to watch

With champions and young pretenders in action, there'll be a treat on every court for spectators at Roland-Garros on Tuesday

Azarenka / Andreescu
 - Nick McCarvel

Can a place itself be magical for a tennis player? 2022 Roland-Garros runners-up Casper Ruud and Coco Gauff hope so as last year’s finalists arrive back in the City of Light.

Both count themselves among the outside favourites to hoist respective singles trophies come this fortnight’s end.

“For some reason I always seem to find my approach in Paris,” said Gauff. “I don't know if it's the city or the vibe here that makes me a lot more at ease.”

Easily, too, can you spot recognisable names on Day 3’s schedule, including Gauff’s fellow young gun Holger Rune, who has his own shining memories of this place after a breakout run to the quarter-finals 12 months ago.

Holger Rune, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Champion's corner: Azarenka vs Andreescu

Neither Victoria Azarenka nor Bianca Andreescu have championship pasts to pull from in Paris, but that shouldn’t matter for the pair of Grand Slam champs who are set for a first-round clash that could easily be mistaken for a quarter-final.

Azarenka is the seed as Canadian Andreescu has dropped to world No. 42 following a series of injuries. It’s a first meeting between the two and offers a contrast of styles: Azarenka with her hard-charging baseline game and Andreescu with a counter-puncher’s never-say-miss approach.


Of Azarenka’s 21 career titles, just one of them has come on clay, while she’s made the final four in Roland-Garros “only” once in 13 appearances. But the Canadian will still have her hands full: She’s yet to win a match on clay in 2023 and is 2-2 in three previous appearances here.

Tennis aficionados are aware, however: this match-up will surely deliver on drama.

Monfils aims for evening magic

While French fans have witnessed nearly all there is to see in the career of home hope Gael Monfils, he’s set to be cast under a new light in Tuesday’s evening session, his debut under the Court Philippe-Chatrier lights.

The 36-year-old is ranked No. 394 having played sparingly over the last 10 months, and he’s still looking for his first win of the 2023 season. There will be nothing handed to La Monf by Sebastian Baez, the 22-year-old Argentine who had Alexander Zverev on the ropes last year in a five-set second round tussle.

It’s set to be a 53rd French Open match for Monfils, who made his debut here in 2005 when he was just half his present age at 18 – and Baez was just four years old. Can the 2008 semi-finalist roll back the clock? He’ll surely try.

Gaël Monfils - Sebastian Baez

A day for favourites: Swiatek, Medvedev, Rybakina begin

Day 3 is easily the strongest of the three opening days, with action from two-time and defending champion Iga Swiatek, Rome winners Daniil Medvedev and Elina Rybakina, as well as Zverev, Ons Jabeur, 2021 winner Barbora Krejcikova and the aforementioned Rune, who turned 20 just last month.

Many have cast the women’s tournament as ‘Iga vs. the field’ with Swiatek’s comfort on clay. The world No. 1 is a sterling 21-2 here and defeated her first-round opponent Cristina Bucsa 6-0, 6-1 at the Australian Open earlier this year.


Daniil Medvedev, Journée Yannick Noah, Roland-Garros 2023©Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

Medvedev has morphed from skeptic to expert on the red dirt, with the Italian Open his first clay title of his 20 trophies won on tour. Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild is his first ask; the 23-year-old won the boys’ title at the US Open in 2018 but is yet to crack the ATP’s top 100 as a senior.

And Rybakina a threat on the red stuff? Rome proved that, but 16-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova is hungry for her maiden splashy win as she makes her own name separate from her sister Linda, the world No. 59.

Elena Rybakina, Roland-Garros 2023, practice©Loïc Wacziak / FFT