There will be no shortage of high-profile tennis on Sunday, as the men’s and women’s singles draws for the 2016 French Open get underway with a full slate of action.
No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 4 Garbine Muguruza are the top names in play in either draw, with young challengers like Nick Kyrgios and Sloane Stephens also in action.
Other notable names to watch include No. 8 Milos Raonic and No. 11 Lucie Safarova, who reached the finals of last year’s French Open, only to lose to the indomitable Serena Williams.
Here’s the men’s and women’s schedule for Sunday, complete with picks for each matchup:
Philippe-Chatrier Court, 11 a.m.
Draw Matchup Prediction
Women’s Singles Danka Kovinic vs. No. 10 Petra Kvitova Kvitova
Men’s Singles No. 5 Kei Nishikori vs. Simone Bolelli Nishikori
Women’s Singles Anna Karolina Schmiedlova vs. No. 4 Garbine Muguruza Muguruza
Men’s Singles No. 30 Jeremy Chardy vs. Leonardo Mayer Chardy
Suzanne-Lenglen Court, 11 a.m.
Men’s Singles Radu Albot vs. No. 19 Benoit Paire Paire
Women’s Singles Vitalia Diatchenko vs. No. 11 Lucie Safarova Safarova
Men’s Singles No. 8 Milos Raonic vs. Janko Tisparevic Raonic
Women’s Singles No. 6 Simona Halep vs. Nao Hibino Halep
Court 1, 11 a.m.
Men’s Singles No. 17 Nick Kyrgios vs Marco Cecchinato Kyrgios
Women’s Singles No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Yaroslava Shvedova Kuznetsova
Women’s Singles No. 17 Karolina Pliskova vs. Shelby Rogers Pliskova
Men’s Singles No. 15 John Isner vs. John Millman Isner
Court 2, 11 a.m.
Women’s Singles Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Tormo
Men’s Singles No. 23 Jack Sock vs. Robin Haase Sock
Women’s Singles Myrtille Georges vs. Christina McHale McHale
Men’s Singles Grigor Dimitrov vs. No. 22 Viktor Troicki Dimitrov
Court 3, 11 a.m.
Men’s Singles Teymuraz Gabashvili vs. Donald Young Young
Women’s Singles Nicole Gibbs vs. Heather Watson Gibbs
Men’s Singles Laslo Djere vs. Jordan Thompson Thompson
Women’s Singles Margarita Gasparyan vs. No. 19 Sloane Stephens Stephens
Court 6, 11 a.m.
Women’s Singles Alison Riske vs. Viktorija Golubic Golubic
Men’s Singles Andrey Kuznetsov vs. Benjamin Becker Kuznetsov
Women’s Singles Elena Vesnina vs. Madison Brengle Vesnina
Men’s Singles Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. Kyle Edmund Basilashvili
Court 14, 11 a.m.
Women’s Singles Lara Arruabarrena vs. Su-Wei Hsieh Hsieh
Men’s Singles Dudi Sela vs Dustin Brown Sela
Men’s Singles No. 27 Ivo Karlovic vs. Albert Montanes Karlovic
Women’s Singles Veronica Cepede Royg vs Sabine Lisicki Royg
Court 17, 11 a.m.
Men’s Singles Adrian Ungur vs. Igor Sijsling Sijsling
Women’s Singles Cagla Buyukakcay vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich Buyukakcay
Women’s Singles Zarina Diyas vs. Carina Witthoeft Diyas
Men’s Singles Roberto Carballes Baena vs. Adam Pavlasek Baena
RolandGarros.com, all times local
A particularly interesting first-round matchup is Grigor Dimitrov against No. 22 Viktor Troicki. Once considered one of the sport’s potential breakout stars, the 25-year-old Dimitrov hasn’t come close to fulfilling his promise, and he comes into this Grand Slam event unseeded.
Dimitrov hasn’t won a singles title since 2014 and is just 18-10 so far on the calendar year. He looked nothing like a top tennis pro in his last match, a first-round 1-6, 4-6 loss to Alexander Zverev at the Italian Open on May 15.
Troicki snatched his first singles title of the year off Dimitrov, defeating him 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) in the final of the Sydney International in January.
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Dimitrov does have two other wins in his career over Troicki, and the latter’s form over the last few months has been uninspiring to say the least. If you’re looking for a drawn-out battle to settle into for the first round, this matchup is a good bet to go five sets. Look for Dimitrov to edge out the 30-year-old Troicki.
Nishikori is the biggest men’s name on Sunday, as the likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka don’t get their start until after the weekend. The New York Times’ Geoff McDonald cites him as a player to watch in Paris, citing a strong serve and tactics:
The key to Nishikori’s rising level of play is his improved serve. He saved 12 of 14 break points against Djokovic, the game’s best returner. Even more telling is how much more effective Nishikori is at winning points on his second serve, once considered a weakness in his game. Against Djokovic, he won 57 percent of second-serve points, an astonishingly high number against the world’s top-ranked player.
In addition to his improved serving, Nishikori, 26, is becoming a better tactician. He hit Djokovic off the court in the first set in Rome but grew passive at decisive stages of the second set. His rising level of play, though, makes him a dangerous threat to the higher seeds, as they know that the fifth-seeded Nishikori has the ability to make a run for the title at Roland Garros.
For the women’s draw, keep an eye on Safarova. The Czech star has what should be an easy first-round matchup against Vitalia Diatchenko, but she has had more than her fair share of struggles in recent months.
A bout of reactive arthritis following a bacterial infection left her with a grim prognosis in January.
“I was in constant pain,” she said, per Sports Illustrated’s Cindy Shmerler. “All of my joints hurt. I couldn’t walk, sleep or go down stairs. The rheumatologist said it could take a week, a month or 10 years for me to feel better. I just couldn’t imagine that I wouldn’t be able to even go for a run or do sports. That’s all I wanted to do.”
Ettore Ferrari/Associated Press
The various ailments clearly took a toll on the 29-year-old. Safarova is just 7-6 in 2016, having lost five-straight singles matches to begin the year after returning in February.
She recovered well enough to win the Prague Open on May 1, and she should be ready to put the bad times behind her with another strong run at the French Open.
Safarova should get the win on Sunday, but fans should keep an eye on her to see if the lefty looks ready to maneuver through the later rounds in this fortnight of tennis.