What to Watch Thursday at the French Open

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CreditPhilippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

First up on Suzanne Lenglen Court (5 a.m. Eastern) will be top-seeded Naomi Osaka against the former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, one of several tough obstacles on Osaka’s path to a third consecutive Grand Slam title. Osaka lost her first set of the tournament, 6-0, on Tuesday and was later two points from defeat against Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova. Osaka said she was “the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match.” She may relax a bit if she remembers that she comfortably won her last match against Azarenka, 6-0, 6-3, in Rome last year, also on clay.

Serena Williams’s second opponent at the French Open will be the 238th-ranked qualifier Kurumi Nara. They will meet in the second match of the day on Philippe Chatrier Court. Nara might seem like the ultimate underdog against Williams, but she is a former top-50 player, and she notched an impressive win over the two-time semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky in qualifying. But she has never scored a win anywhere near as emphatic as defeating Williams at a major would be.

In the second match on Court 1, Danielle Collins, the surprise Australian Open semifinalist, will face the eighth-seeded Barty, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in Melbourne and backed it up with a title at the Miami Open. The two faced each other for the first time this month in Madrid, where Barty won a 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 roller coaster.

Bublik, who faces fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the first match on Chatrier Court, will do things that make you shake your head, routinely going for trick shots, underhand serves and wild drop shots. Against Thiem, who plays deep in the court, Bublik may see a wider canvas.

“Hopefully he can pull it together, play those bigger points with a little more discipline,” Nick Kyrgios said of Bublik earlier this year. “Strange, me saying that. But he’s seriously fun to watch.”

The fifth-seeded Zverev has developed a reputation for taking the scenic route at Grand Slam tournaments, extending matches against opponents he is expected to beat comfortably. After going five sets in his first-round win over John Millman, Zverev will have a chance to be more ruthless against the Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer in the second match on Simonne Mathieu Court. Or, he could take four hours again.

More coverage from Roland Garros
Articles about the 2019 French Open

Source: NYT

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