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Tennis • Ricky’s preview and picks for Day 2 of the French Open, including Nadal, Medvedev, and Monfils

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a 13th French Open title on Monday. If successful, Nadal will tie Roger Federer atop the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam titles list with 20. Of course, the Spaniard always takes it one match at time and therefore his focus right now is on nobody other than Egor Gerasimov. Danill Medvedev and Gael Monfils are also starting their fortnights on Monday.

Ricky previews three of the Day 2 matchups and makes his predictions.

Egor Gerasimov vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal is by no means a slam dunk for another title at Roland Garros as he heads into his 2020 campaign. Late September conditions are less conducive to his game than those of late May and early June, and in his only clay-court warmup event he lost to Diego Schwartzman in the Rome quarterfinals. Of course, Nadal was also a question mark heading into last year’s French Open (he lost in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid) and that only ended with a convincing romp to a third consecutive title on the red clay of Paris.

Up first for the second-ranked Spaniard is Gerasimov, whom he has never faced. The 83rd-ranked Belarusian was playing the best tennis of his career in February but has been a disaster since the coronavirus hiatus. Gerasimov attempted to qualify at three recent tournaments and failed to do so on any occasion. The 27-year-old earned direct entry into the French Open, but he will be going directly out and doing so in a hurry.

Pick: Nadal in 3

(4) Daniil Medvedev vs. Marton Fucsovics

Amazingly enough, Medvedev has never won a match at the French Open (0-3). He also has not won a match on clay this season (0-1). In his only appearance in between the two recent majors, the U.S. Open semifinalist lost his Hamburg opener to Ugo Humbert.

Medvedev will have to round back into form in a hurry because Fucsovics is not an easy first-round opponent. The good news for the fifth-ranked Russian is that he leads the head-to-head series 3-0, although their lone clay-court encounter was extremely competitive (Medvedev prevailed 6-7(4), 6-2, 7-5 at the 2018 Monte-Carlo Masters). Fucsovics has not played a single match since the U.S. Open, so the Hungarian may not be able to capitalize even though Medvedev is vulnerable on this surface.

Pick: Medvedev in 4

(8) Gael Monfils vs. Alexander Bublik

Not unlike the case with Gerasimov, the break from tennis could not have come at a worse time for Monfils. The ninth-ranked Frenchman was 16-3 prior to the stoppage with titles in Montpellier and Rotterdam. Since returning, though, Monfils is 0-2 with losses to Dominik Koepfer in Rome and to Yannick Hanfmann in Hamburg. By his own admission following the Hamburg exit, he is not feeling good on the court right now.

Bublik, on the other hand, is riding high after reaching the Hamburg quarterfinals as a lucky loser (lost in three sets to clay-court specialist Cristian Garin). This is a showdown between two of the most entertaining, unpredictable, and unreliable players in tennis. For the time being, it is the 49th-ranked Kazakh who is more reliable. That is not saying a lot, of course, but it does say that an upset is possible and even probable.

Pick: Bublik in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.