Day 4: Three to watch

 - Nick McCarvel

Round 2 gets underway as a host of top seeds look to confirm their favoured status

Vondrousova - Kasatkina

Day 4 is when Round 2 arrives in Paris – and the singles draws begin to take true shape for Roland-Garros 2023.

There are the resurgent stories of Elina Svitolina, Stan Wawrinka, Lucas Pouille and more. True testaments that career paths are as individual as playing styles.

There are also the lingering questions that never disappear for the favourites: Is this a day when they could be felled? Top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic will face down that query, as will Aryna Sabalenka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Caroline Garcia and Jessica Pegula.

Home hope Garcia is the first French woman to be seeded in the top five here since Amelie Mauresmo (now tournament director) in 2007. She survived a three-set scare against China’s Wang Xiyu on Monday and defined the challenge as "a big first round.”

And it only gets bigger from here.

Caroline Garcia, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Style pick: Kasatkina v Vondrousova

As tennis has modernised over the last two generations, one aspect has risen above the others: Power.

But Roland-Garros offers respite for those who desire a more layered approach, the Parisian terre battue often rewarding a nuanced, all-court approach.

Last year's semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina and 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova both play with said layers. For Kasatkina it’s a craft and court sense coupled with the sweetest of drop shots, while Vondrousova hides her lefty stroke in her back pocket, as unpredictable as it is lethal.

The two clash for a fifth time on Wednesday, having split four previous meetings. Kasatkina won their first match here in 2017, while Vondrousova exacted clay revenge at Rome in 2019. Their most recent meeting, at the US Open in 2021, went to Kasatkina 6-4 in the third set.

Who wins chapter five of throwback tennis?

Marketa Vondrousova, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Clément Mahoudeau / FFT

The road long travelled: Lucas Pouille

Along with the aforementioned Wawrinka and Svitolina, Frenchman Pouille offers the tournament one of its feelgood stories this fortnight, the former world No.10 battling a series of injuries and subsequent depression to win his first match at a major since the 2019 US Open.

Having qualified for the main draw, he captured his first win in Paris in four years in front of an enraptured French crowd on the intimate Court 14. “[The fans] can really feel the emotions with you, not like on bigger courts,” he said. “I think it created something incredible.”

Pouille, too, is creating something incredible. Having admitted to battling his own “darker side” in his off-court trevails, he’ll do battle with No.14 seed Cameron Norrie on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, where he’ll once again be the public’s favourite.

“I've hardly ever received so much support,” Pouille said of his 2023 campaign. “Every time I come across somebody [who recognises me] on the street, everyone is supporting me.”

Lucas Pouille, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Djokovic steps under the lights

Alcaraz and Djokovic could meet in the semi-finals, but Day 4 marks Nole’s night debut in 2023, a time slot he’s flourished in at both the Australian and US Opens.

His challenger is world No.83 Marton Fucsovics, who has been ranked as high as No.31 in 2019. They’ve played four times previously, Fucsovics able to earn three sets in total, but never toppling Mt. Nole.

Novak Djokovic, 1er tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

While Djokovic said he is “pleased and content” with his level, he also offered a warning shot to the rest of the field after coming into the French without a clay title for the first time since 2018.

“I can always play better,” he said after the first round, adding: “I want to dominate whoever I play against regardless of the circumstances and who is across the net.”

Fucsovics does have one top five win to his name, over Daniil Medvedev, and it came at this very tournament in 2020.

Marton Fucsovics, first round, Roland-Garros 2023© Cédric Lecocq/FFT