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Ricky’s Picks and Previews for Day 2 at Roland Garros Tennis including Roger Federer vs. Istomin

By Ricky Dimon

First-round French Open action continues on Monday, when Roger Federer gets his fortnight underway. Daniil Medvedev and David Goffin are also taking the court. Ricky previews three of the top matches and makes his predictions.

(8) Roger Federer vs. (Q) Denis Istomin

Federer may not be the Federer of old, but he is 7-0 lifetime against Istomin heading into this contest. The Swiss is much less match fit than he has been at any other time in his career, but he’s still Federer. And Istomin is…well…still Istomin.

The Uzbek’s ranking has plummeted to No. 204 in the world. He has struggled mightily, even on the Challenger circuit. He did well to get through three rounds of qualifying last week to earn his spot opposite Federer, but that’s likely as far as he will get. With Federer still shaking off the rust, this match could be closer than it otherwise would be. Still, the 39-year-old should take care of business.

Pick: Federer in 4

Alexander Bublik vs. (2) Daniil Medvedev

Medvedev vs. Bublik should be the most interesting and the most uproarious match of the entire first round. Both guys are combustible characters no matter the situation, and when they are on clay–the worst surface for each of them–things could go especially haywire. The result is likely to be a roller-coaster ride that makes up for with entertainment value what it lacks in quality of tennis.

Despite stealing the No. 2 seed from Rafael Nadal, Medvedev certainly isn’t the second favorite for the title; in fact, he shouldn’t be anywhere close to the top 10 favorites. The Russian has never won a single match at Roland Garros. A relatively in-form Bublik has won 19 matches in 2021, reached the Madrid quarterfinals, and has advanced one round at each of the last two French Opens. With more confidence than Medvedev on the red stuff (which isn’t saying a lot!), the 37th-ranked Kazakh can pull off what would only be a minor upset.

Pick: Bublik in 5

Lorenzo Musetti vs. (13) David Goffin
On paper, Goffin vs. Musetti may be the best matchup of the first round. Goffin is the No. 13 player in the world and Musetti is one of tennis’ brightest rising stars. The reality, though, is that Goffin–despite being ranked 63 spots ahead of his opponent–would do well simply to make this competitive. Since kicking off his clay-court swing with a quarter-final performance in Monte-Carlo, the Belgian is 2-3 with three losses to opponents ranked outside the top 50. It should also be noted that Goffin had lost three consecutive matches prior to Monte-Carlo, as well.

At the other end of the form spectrum is Musetti, who is 13-8 on the main tour in 2021. The 19-year-old’s rise into the top 100 is also thanks to a 2020 season that saw him reach the Rome third round as a qualifier and win a Challenger at home in Italy (on clay). Musetti has advanced at least one round in five straight tournaments and that streak should continue at the expense of a vulnerable opponent.

Pick: Musetti in 4

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