Three to see: Grigor's early test

 - Ian Chadband

No.4 seed Dimitrov faces a tasty tussle with Troicki while Ostapenko opens her title defence on Chatrier.

Grigor Dimitrov entraînement / practice Suzanne-Lenglen Roland-Garros 2018©Philippe Montigny / FFT
Grigor Dimitrov v Viktor Troicki

First match (11am), Court Philippe-Chatrier

A tasty Sunday hors d’oeuvre for Roland-Garros as the pair who’ve enjoyed a series of notable tussles cross swords again for the sixth time. For ATP finals champ and number four seed Dimitrov, though, there’s the alarming possibility of being the first big name to bite the red dust in 2018 against the experienced Serb campaigner.

Head to head history

The Bulgarian leads 3-2 but Troicki’s two victories in 2016 were the most memorable - a tiebreak-deciding win (9-7) in the final in Sydney (the Serb’s last tournament triumph) after staving off a championship point followed by a fightback from two sets to one down to prevail in their first round match here at Roland-Garros. Last year, though, in their most recent meeting, Dimitrov prevailed comfortably in his home tournament in Sofia.

Form coming in

Troicki’s had a fairly lean time, having won three and lost four in his clay-court campaign and being forced to withdraw from the Italian Open with injury before the second round. Dimitrov, on a three-match losing streak, is not faring much better, though, after his landmark 2017 campaign, admitting “I haven't found my game right now” although he looked as if he may chance upon it in his closely-fought three-setter against Kei Nishikori in Rome.

Roland-Garros history

Dimitrov’s four first-round exits in seven French Opens says it all about his ongoing struggles here and he’s never gone as far as Troicki, who’s made the last-16 on three occasions.

Tactical duel

With one of the most volatile temperaments on tour, Troicki’s explosive nature can work to his advantage if he channels it constructively, unsettling the nervous Dimitrov. The Bulgarian’s single-handed backhand is most exposed on clay, and Troicki will aim to drag him wide on that wing and keep him off-balance on his least-favoured surface.

Roland-Garros 2018, Grigor Dimitrov, entraînement, practice©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
Jelena Ostapenko v Kateryna Kozlova

Fourth match, Court Philippe-Chatrier

It’s going to feel oh so different for Latvia’s champion this year. In 2017, she was an unheralded teenage hopeful without seemingly a care in the world as she blitzed to a maiden tournament victory in a hail of unstoppable winners. Now, at 20, she returns with a smile but also with the acknowledgment that “I’m under pressure this time” as she opens her defence against the world No.66 Kozlova. It’s not just the expectation that weighs more heavily; her 24-year-old Ukrainian opponent can boast a victory against Ostapenko in their only previous meeting. Okay, it was on the grass in S-Hertogenbosch and Ostapenko was hardly the player she is now but it still serves as a serious warning.

Ostapenko Kozlova 1er tour Roland-Garros 2018 1st round
Ground-pass gold: Francesca Schiavone v Viktoria Kuzmova

Third match, Court 3

For those seeking a cracking attraction on the outside courts, then look no further that the ever-popular Schiavone’s contest with Slovakian Kuzmova. The veteran Italian has delighted the crowds at the qualifiers this past week, winning her first three matches of the entire year after a troublesome time with injuries. Yet now she can remember why her decision to carry on this season after flirting with retirement was the right one. On a roll again with that single-handed backhand flowing, the old ‘Lioness’ will be out to teach a lesson to the promising young cub Kuzmova, who at 20 has just picked up the biggest title of her fledgling career at the ITF $100,000 event in Trnava. After that tussle, the Court 3 fans might fancy hanging around to see Federico Delbonis and Thomaz Bellucci in an enjoyable-looking Argentina v Brazil dust-up.