A day on which we saw Serena Williams keep trucking, Denis Shapolov bungled out, and Julien Benneteau bid a final adieu, Thursday was a day that highlighted the ups, downs and bittersweet moments that make a tennis career.

Whether you never win a slam, or win 23 of them, it’s hard to argue athletes in any other sport go through as many chapters as a tennis player does. You can break through at 19… or at 32, be a hero… and a villain, make several comebacks, and define your whole career narrative in a two-week run. I mean really, we shouldn’t be this invested in people we don’t know, but how can you not be?

Here’s your three to see on day 6 at Roland Garros — if you’re there, I hope you have Suzanne Lenglen tickets!

Madison Keys (USA) [13] v Naomi Osaka (JPN) [21] – First on Suzanne Lenglen

Two women who have murdered their fair-share of tennis balls, Keys-Osaka is about as good a slugfest as it gets. Leading the head-to-head 2-0, Keys comes in the slight favourite, but considering they haven’t played in over a year and the gains Osaka has made in that time, the Japanese has to believe she can turn the tables here. Considering their similarly massive arsenals, positioning is sure to play a big part here, as both players will look to attack constantly and will be loath to get stuck behind the baseline. All-in-all, that should mean plenty of winners, a few entertaining rallies and a real cracker of a match.

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [13] v Novak Djokovic (SRB) [20] – Second on Suzanne Lenglen

About as good a test of the current state of Novak Djokovic as you could hope for, Roberto Bautista Agut is the exact sort of player you’d expect him to handle – whether, he actually can… well, that’s the issue. Historically the Serb has owned this matchup, winning all but one of their seven encounters, yet that one victory to Agut (Shanghai 2016) was notable for being one of the early indicators of Djokovic’s slide in 2017, the Spaniard seeming to get under his skin with his sheer tenacity. Of course if Djokovic has his mind right, he still has more than enough of a baseline advantage to get the job done, but don’t be surprised if it takes an extra set or two to get there.

David Goffin (BEL) [8] v Gael Monfils (FRA) [32] – Third on Suzanne Lenglen

A match where seedings mean nothing, David Goffin is set to have his hands full with both Gael Monfils and the French faithful in this one. Not including his retirement at the US Open last year, Monfils has a 2-1 advantage in their head-to-head, with all three matches going to the maximum three sets in what is a fascinating contrast in styles. Where Goffin is usually able to take the early initiative in rallies and move Monfils about with his rock-solid baseline play, the Frenchman is always one shot away from flipping things completely on its head, hanging around until he can employ his shotmaking advantage. All-in-all that should mean a wholly entertaining encounter, as likely to be three tiebreaks as five alternating bagels.


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