10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s picks for Day 1 of the French Open, including Hurkacz vs. Goffin

The 2023 French Open gets started on Sunday, with plenty of intriguing first-round showdowns on the menu. An all-American affair pits Sebastian Korda against Mackenzie McDonald, while Hubert Hurkacz may have a tough opener on his hands with David Goffin on the other side of the net.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

Mackenzie McDonald vs. (24) Sebastian Korda

Korda was the breakout star of the 2020 French Open, when he advanced to the last 16 as a qualifier before bowing out to his idol–Rafael Nadal. The American also reached the third round last season, falling to another Spaniard–Carlos Alcaraz. Although Korda is up to 29th in the rankings at 22 years old, expectations are not high for him at the moment. That can be attributed to the fact that he missed three months following the Australian Open because of a wrist injury and is 0-2 upon his return.

This will be the first-ever meeting between Korda and McDonald. Clay may be McDonald’s worst surface, but he is far from hopeless on it. The 56th-ranked American has reached at least the second round of three consecutive RGs (including as a qualifier in 2021) and then made a third-round appearance last year. Despite not being in great form as it stands right now, if McDonald plays like he normally does at Roland Garros he should be able to take advantage of an opponent who is short on confidence.

Pick: McDonald in 4

David Goffin vs. (13) Hubert Hurkacz

Hurkacz and Goffin will be squaring off for the third time in their careers and for a second straight time at Roland Garros. Their most recent encounter came in the third round last spring at Roland Garros, where Hurkacz got the job done in straight sets. However, it should not be forgotten that Goffin won their other previous contest 7-6(8), 7-6(2) at the 2022 Rome Masters.

That aforementioned French Open result notwithstanding, Hurkacz has a dreadful record at slams. The 13th-ranked Pole has reached the third round just once at both the Australian Open and French Open, has advanced past the Wimbledon third round only once, and has never made it out of the U.S. Open second round. With a lackluster 3-4 record on clay in 2023, there is little reason to expected any French Open success. Meanwhile, Goffin showed recent signs of life with respectable showings at the Aix-en-Provence Challenger (semifinals) and Rome Masters (second round), so an upset may be brewing.

Pick: Goffin in 5

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