It’s official: there will be a new women’s grand slam champion in Paris this year.
With the ouster of not just Garbine Murguruza, but Venus Williams and Samantha Stosur on Sunday, there are no women in the draw with a singles title to their name. What was already a power vacuum in the wake of Serena Williams’ absence is now even more so, and that couldn’t make week two in Paris any more exciting.
As things stand, you’d probably tip Simona Halep to take the title (indeed, the bookies have) but the draw really is wide open. Each of the women left has their strengths and flaws, making it truly anyone’s game. Buckle up kids, the road to Saturday is gonna be one hell of a ride.
Here’s your three to see for Day 9 at Roland Garros.
Andy Murray (GBR)  vs Karen Khachanov (RUS) – 2nd on Philippe Chatrier
Having disposed of one massive forehand in the previous round in Juan Martin Del Potro, Murray now gets to double-up his fun against the massively improved Karen Khachanov. Coming off back-to-back wins over Tomas Berdych and John Isner, Khachanov will try to do what Del Potro couldn’t, namely step into his forehand with regularity and stop Murray from pulling him out wide to his backhand. Of course, against someone as intelligent as Murray that’s easier said than done, but even the attempt should lead to some outstanding rallies, and while it may not have the combined star-power of other matches, their contrasts make this one not to miss.
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs Kei Nishikori (JPN)  – 2nd on Suzanne Lenglen
Proving that his first-round upset of Alexander Zverev was no fluke, the 33-year-old Verdasco has managed to make his way into the second week in Paris with some scintillating tennis, and comes into this match against Nishikori with the knowledge he can at least trouble the Japanese. Nishikori holds a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head, but has gone the distance in each of his victorious encounters, including here last year, and considering he was just pushed to five by Hyeon Chung, there’s every reason to expect more of the same. Whoever controls the baseline controls this match, but the way they’re playing, that could be either man. Expect outrageous forehands from Verdasco, lethal backhands from Nishikori, and enough drop shots to make even the most notorious rec-league junkballer blush. This will be a fun one.
Caroline Garcia (FRA)  vs Alize Cornet (FRA) – 4th on Philippe Chatrier
There’s nothing like a little animosity to spice up a singles match – when it’s two Frenchwomen in France, well, sparks are sure to fly. Following in the great French tradition of their representative teams being sabotaged internally, the dislike between Garcia and Cornet stems from a disagreement over Fed Cup commitments, with Garcia being on the ouster after her doubles partnership with Kristina Mladenovic broke up earlier this year. The two also possess a fun contrast in styles, with Garcia sure to make use of her massive forehand to try and end points quickly, while Cornet will look to do the opposite and frustrate her opponent with fast feet and a soft touch. This should be a fun one, so come for the tennis, and stay for the super-awkward post-match handshake.