Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 1 of the 2021 French Open.

Welcome to the 2021 French Open.

Welcome to Paris for day 1 of 2021 Roland-Garros and what promises to be a thrilling and maddening tennis event.

What should we expect this year in Paris?

What can we expect to see over the next two weeks at this second Grand Slam of the 2021 season? Well, we thought you’d never ask. Here’s a little rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly. And everything in between.

You can expect things to get messy because we’re playing on red clay. There will be dirt everywhere you look. There will be close line calls that umpires probably get wrong. There might be, we’re being hopeful here, Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire smiles because they’re playing their home Slams.

You won’t see any Naomi Osaka pressers, but at least you already expected this. You can expect to see the Williams sisters again. You can expect to see Roger Federer on a tennis court, which has become a rarified sight these days.

And in the end, you can expect a Rafael Nadal singles win on the men’s side. Same as it (almost) always is.

Day 1 preview

Best of all, you can also expect daily write-ups in this space about three of the best matches of the following day. See our choices for day 1 below. As always, you can see the full day 1 schedule here.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Patricia Maria Tig vs Naomi Osaka [2] (First match of the day)

After the announcement she made just a few days before this event, it would be silly not to choose to highlight Naomi Osaka’s first match. It won’t be a particularly competitive one, or at least it shouldn’t be, but it will be fun to watch the 23-year-old play now that she’s rid herself of a big burden. It goes beyond that however. For all of Osaka’s excellence, her results at the French Open have been downright pedestrian, with nothing better than three third-round berths.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen: Ana Konjuh [Q] vs Aryna Sabalenka [3] (Third match of the day)

You wake up one day, look over at the draw and realize that, woah is this true? Aryna Sabalenka is seeded No. 3 at a Grand Slam event? This same 23-year-old who’s yet to reach the second week of any major she’s entered?

Look, we’re not trying to pick on the Belarusian here; plenty of players are, have been and will continue getting higher seed than they likely deserve. But the rankings are what the rankings are, so Sabalenka is a third seed in Paris.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Jeremy Chardy vs Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] (Fourth match of the day)

If not for Nadal, we might have been discussing Stefanos Tsitsipas’s run through the 2021 clay court season. Since a loss in the quarterfinals in Miami, the Greek grabbed two titles, including at the prestigious Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, to go along with another final in Barcelona and the quarterfinals in Rome.

Tsitsipas has played about as well as anyone has over the past six or so weeks. We can’t wait to see him face off against the best players on the men’s side. Until that happens, he’ll play Jeremy Chardy.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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