2021 French Open: What to Watch on Thursday

How to watch: 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tennis Channel; streaming on Tennis Channel+.

The 4 Grand Slam tournaments are crucial tennis occasions of the yr. For good cause, they draw the world’s greatest gamers. But it’s a rarity for all the high gamers, the match favorites, to be enjoying in the identical half of the bracket.

On the ladies’s facet, Iga Swiatek and Ashleigh Barty, the previous two winners of the French Open, are each trying to prolong their Roland Garros win streaks to 9 matches. On the boys’s facet, the three most adorned champions of the game, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are showing in the identical half of a serious draw for the primary time. With 58 Grand Slam titles amongst them, the Big Three are nonetheless dominating. Any different participant of their half can have fairly a problem to attain the ultimate.

Here are some matches to preserve a watch on.

Because of the variety of matches biking by courts, the occasions for particular person matchups are estimates and should fluctuate based mostly on when earlier play is accomplished. All occasions are Eastern.

Philippe Chatrier Court | 10 a.m.

Roger Federer vs. Marin Cilic

Roger Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion in males’s singles, lately returned to the ATP Tour after a pair of operations on his proper knee. Now 39, he has missed the French Open 4 occasions prior to now 5 years, typically resting through the clay-court swing.

Marin Cilic has gained only one Grand Slam match, the 2014 U.S. Open, which made him the fourth most profitable male participant coming into this yr’s French Open. Twice, Cilic was denied a second main title by Federer, at Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018.

The two gamers are usually not properly suited to the crushed brick of Roland Garros; Federer’s elegant slices and Cilic’s highly effective serve and volley are dampened on clay. This match will revolve extra round tennis fundamentals and health than on stylistic strengths.

Philippe Chatrier Court | 10 a.m.

Sloane Stephens vs. Karolina Pliskova

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, had to play by the qualifying rounds of the Italian Open in May, the primary time she wanted to qualify right into a match since 2012. In the primary spherical at Roland Garros, she edged Carla Suárez Navarro on Tuesday in a late-night match. Both gamers have had off-court struggles prior to now yr; Suárez Navarro lately underwent therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma, and Stephens had deaths in her prolonged household from Covid-19.

Karolina Pliskova, the ninth seed, had an excellent run on the clay-court swing, reaching the ultimate of the Italian Open. But then she was dismantled by the 2020 French Open champion, Iga Swiatek. Pliskova gained solely 13 factors and misplaced, 6-Zero, 6-Zero. She will want to shake off any doubts from that efficiency.

Philippe Chatrier Court | eight a.m.

Ashleigh Barty vs. Magda Linette

Ashleigh Barty, above, beat Bernarda Pera within the first spherical, and can subsequent meet Pera’s doubles associate, Magda Linette.Credit…Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Ashleigh Barty, the primary seed, was pressed by Bernarda Pera within the first spherical. To win in three units, Barty centered on consistency, making solely 25 unforced errors as she centered on lengthening factors. Her first serves weren’t in effective kind, nonetheless. She landed solely 66 p.c of them, and once they did land, she was much less doubtless to win the purpose than on her second serves. The 2019 French Open champion, Barty will want to tackle this problem.

Magda Linette, ranked No. 45, struggled at the start of 2021, shedding 5 of her first six matches. She has turned it round simply in time, gaining some confidence as she reached the semifinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg final week in France. Now, she is going to attempt to avenge the loss by her doubles associate, Pera, and upset Barty to equal her greatest main consequence.

Court 7 | 10 a.m.

Aslan Karatsev vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 132, was as soon as a daily presence within the fourth spherical of main tournaments. But prior to now eight Grand Slam occasions, he has not made it previous the second spherical, and this as soon as fearsome participant now appears to be edging towards the top of his profession. That’s not to say that he’s with out hope. In the primary spherical, he beat Fernando Verdasco, a clay-court specialist and former world No. 7.

Aslan Karatsev, the 24th seed, burst into the general public eye with an outrageous run to the semifinals of the Australian Open as a qualifier, knocking out three seeded gamers earlier than being dismissed by Novak Djokovic. It was not only a flash within the pan. He adopted that together with his first ATP Tour title on the Dubai Open and massive victories on clay over Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Karatsev’s consistency could be examined over the best-of-five format if Kohlschreiber imparts strain with aggressive baseline play.

Here are a number of extra matches to preserve a watch on.

Elina Svitolina vs. Ann Li; Suzanne Lenglen Court, 5 a.m.

Sofia Kenin vs. Hailey Baptiste; Court 14, 5 a.m.

Novak Djokovic vs. Pablo Cuevas; Suzanne Lenglen Court, 10 a.m.

Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet; Philippe Chatrier Court, three p.m.