Jelena Ostapenko - 2017 Roland Garros (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Roland Garros 2018 | Three to See on Day 1

By Jake Davies

  • Jelena Ostapenko [5] vs Kateryna Kozlova
  • Alexander Zverev [2] vs Ricardas Berankis
  • Elina Svitolina [4] vs Ajla Tomljanovic
PARIS, FRANCE – The second Grand Slam of the year is finally beginning and we looked at the three must-see matches on the opening day of Roland Garros.


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Jelena Ostapenko [5] vs Kateryna Kozlova | H2H: Kozlova leads 1-0

Just twelve months ago,  an unseeded Jelena Ostapenko was preparing for a Grand Slam main draw at the French Open, with very little expectation and no experience to draw upon and yet she ended up winning seven matches in a row to blast her way towards a first French Open title. Now in 2018, Ostapenko has established herself in the World’s Top 10 and arrives in Paris as the No.5 seed, and even though the expectations on her shoulders are greatly heightened, Ostapenko will be looking to display a similar brand of tennis, while trying to defend her maiden title.

Her first round opponent is Kateryna Kozlova. A gifted Ukrainian tennis player playing close to a career high ranking at the moment, but has been blighted by injury and loss of form and comes into this Grand Slam with no match-wins since the beginning of the year. On her day, Kozlova is a talented ball-striker, capable of upping the tempo on her backhand side, but the big fear will be whether Ostapenko can totally overwhelm her with the aggressiveness of her ball-strike on every ball possible.

Prediction: Ostapenko in two sets.


Alexander Zverev [2] vs Ricardas Berankis | H2H: First meeting

Alexander Zverev in the final of the ATP Mutua Madrid Open, 2018
Alexander Zverev in the final of the ATP Mutua Madrid Open, 2018 | (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the red hot contenders for this year’s Roland Garros on the men’s side is German No.1 Alexander Zverev. The German has been on quite a roll in the regular tour events this season, winning 13 matches in a row over three tournaments, before losing to No.1 seed Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters final. The question and real concern for Zverev has been being able to bottle that sort of form at Masters level and bring it into a Grand Slam as he is yet to make it past the fourth round of the four biggest tournaments on the tennis calendar.

Ricardas Berankis offers a different challenge. An efficient worker from deep behind the baseline, but Zverev has been taking care of his service games immensely in recent weeks, particularly in Munich and Madrid and should make it through the first real scare in Paris this year.

Prediction: Zverev in three sets


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Elina Svitolina [4] vs Ajla Tomljanovic | H2H: Svitolina leads 1-0

Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand prix, WTA Stuttgart
Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine in action at the 2018 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Elina Svitolina, like Zverev, achieved her biggest title to date by winning the Rome title last year, where she defeated Simona Halep from a set and a break down in that final. The No.4 seed repeated the feat in Rome this year as she beat Halep once again, but this time far more emphatically. Svitolina is one of the most consistent performers on the WTA and always seems to get towards the latter stages of each event and has picked up title after title inside the last twelve months, but now has to show those improvements in her game on tennis’ grandest stage, and the Ukrainian will have great ambitions for herself going into Roland-Garros. Full of confidence and playing on her favourite surface.

Ajla Tomljanovic is a tricky customer to be drawn up against in the first round. Many tennis fans will remember Tomljanovic’s first real deep run at a major at this event in 2014, where she defeated then No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the Last 16, but a niggling shoulder problem has really halted her career for over a year. The Croatian-turned-Australian will need to be very aggressive as she won’t be able to live with Svitolina’s consistency from the back of the court.

Prediction: Svitolina in three sets.




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