Another year, another disappointing exit for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The leading light of French hopes for nearly a decade, his four-set loss to little-known Renzo Olivo is exactly what the Parisian crowd didn’t want to see, yet in so doing, might have to come to the realisation that at 32, his chances of gaining major glory have passed him.

The question now is, who can step up and take Tsonga’s mantle? The French have precious few stars to choose from, with Kristina Mladenovic being the only real grand slam contender. For however long Mladenovic and the rest of the local cohort last at Roland Garros is sure to be a fascinating subplot to watch, for should they falter, there’s sure to be a lot of hand-wringing about the state of French tennis.

Moving onto day 5, second round action concludes with a host of intriguing encounters, so read on for a look at the three to see on Thursday in Paris.

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [3] vs Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) – 2nd on Philippe Chatrier

On the surface it may not seem the most apt comparison, but there’s a lot of Wawrinka in Dolgopolov, and vice versa. Both are wildly talented shotmakers, who spent their 20’s largely failing to deliver on their gobs of potential, and are liable to disappear for months at a time only to pull out a scintillating win that never lets them fully escape tennis’ collective consciousness. Of course Wawrinka has righted the ship in a way Dolgopolov could only dream of, but in the three times they’ve played, the Ukranian has come away with two victories, and like the Swiss has a clay court title to his name in 2017. There’s no reason to expect their fourth encounter to be anything other than brilliant… Then confounding… Then brilliant again.

Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs Tomas Berdych (CZE) [13] – 2nd on Court 6

If you like really tall guys beating the stuffing out of the ball, well do I have the match for you! Not one usually matched for pace, Berdych will not only be matched by Khachanov, but even outgunned. His forehand possessing all the subtlety of a Stan Wawrinka outfit, the 20-year-old Khachanov is an exciting if still relatively unpolished prospect, but while Berdych is sure to make him work for his opportunities, the Russian will definitely get his licks in. An upset is within reach for Khachanov, but regardless of the result, it should be a cracker.

Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) [17] vs Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) – 3rd on Court 2

A semifinalist here in 2014, it’s safe to say Bouchard has done a rotten job of backing up that performance. A first round exit in 2015 was followed by a second round defeat in 2016, and really that’s been the story of her career. We’re still waiting for the clean-hitting, ruthless Bouchard of 2014 to reintroduce herself, instead getting the frustrating facsimile alternating moments of brilliance with play more mystifying than her fandom of Justin Bieber. In contrast Sevastova is a player who has only got better with experience, possessing the ability to string her opponents along the baseline, only to pull the chair out from underneath with an absolutely filthy drop shot. Bouchard will be confident she can hit Sevastova off the court – as long as she doesn’t hit herself off first.


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