Thirty four years have passed since the last French Grand Slam winner on the men’s side of things and there is still immense expectation and anticipation for the results of the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet this fortnight.
Tsonga moves into the second Grand Slam of the year with an important title win in Lyon, beating Tomas Berdych in the final and he also won the 500 level event in Rotterdam on the indoor hard court earlier this year. The Frenchman has come ever so close to achieving what Yannick Noah did in 1983, but as he approaches his 33rd birthday, many wonder whether the window of opportunity has passed for the hard-hitting Frenchman.
His opponent in the first round, Renzo Olivo, is very inexperienced at this level as he prepares for just his third Grand Slam main draw, but his best results on tour have come on clay.
Tsonga’s year overall has been great and he will have the additional incentive to claw his way back into the Top 10 leading into the grass court season, where he usually thrives.
Prediction: Tsonga in three sets.
Dustin Brown vs Gael Monfils  H2H: First meeting
This encounter has the potential to be one of the memorable and enthralling first round match-ups. In the majority of his matches, Monfils looks to win most of his points through his sheer athleticism, while Dustin Brown‘s approach to tennis is to shorten the points and showcase his ability in the forecourt.
Monfils is the favourite on a clay court. Brown’s game suits the slick grass courts, because it allows him to play rushed, high-tempo tennis, which is a lot harder to execute on the slower clay courts in Paris.
Prediction: Monfils in three sets.
Jana Cepelova vs Simona Halep  H2H: Tied at 1-1
The No.3 seed Simona Halep‘s clay season was better than anyone else. She defended the title in Madrid and then just came up short in Rome the following week. The Romanian’s first round opponent knows what it takes to beat Halep in a Grand Slam setting. The talented Slovakian Jana Cepelova upset Halep in the first round at Wimbledon 2015 and will be hoping for more of the same on the clay of Roland Garros.
The major question regarding Halep is the status of the ankle injury she sustained in Rome and whether that completely hinders her ambitions for a first Grand Slam title, considering she relies so heavily on her superior movement from the back of the court.
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