Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 3 of the 2021 French Open.

It’s not often you can see things unfold in real time like this.

On Sunday on the very first day of this year’s event, fourth-seed Dominic Thiem lost against Pablo Andujar by the final score of 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6 and 4-6. In doing so, he guaranteed that we would have at least one first-time Grand Slam finalist emerging from the lower half of the draw.

See, the draw wasn’t all bad, was it? Sure, it pitted maybe the three best players of all time in the same half, but then if left the lower one barren. Whatever happens, we know that one man’s career will get a boost after making the French Open final. (You know, a boost after and despite the likely beatdown against Rafael Nadal.)

There are many underrated things about the Big 3 of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Their consistent and lasting excellence. The way they pushed the limits of the sport far beyond what we thought was possible. Their distinct playing styles. Their ongoing rivalries with one another. Their year-end No. 1 titles.

But for our money, the most underrated thing with them is not merely that they won 58 total Grand Slams (and counting). It’s that they made another 29 Grand Slam finals. That doesn’t leave much space, if any at all, for other players of their generation.

Day 3 preview

As always, we end our daily column with a look at three notables matches from the schedule. If you’d like to consult the full day 3 slate, you can do so by clicking here.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Bernarda Pera vs Ashleigh Barty [1] (Second match of the day)

Ever since she won her first Grand Slam title, here at Roland-Garros two years ago, Ashleigh Barty has ramped up her results. On the biggest stages, she went from never really making it past the third round to now routinely doing so. She’s one of the very best competitors in the WTA, as her No. 1 ranking can attest, and she’s got a pretty fair draw ahead of her. It’s a prime occasion to cement her grip on the top spot.

Court Suzanne-Lenglen: Hugo Gaston vs Richard Gasquet (Third match of the day)

By now, the best days of Richard Gasquet’s career are long gone: he’s 34 years old, ranked No. 50 in the world, and his best Grand Slam result came all the way back at the 2013 US Open. The Flyin’ Frenchman’s over the hill, is what we’re saying, but maybe he still has a few tricks up his sleeve? He used to bleach his hair, maybe he sports a faux hawk this time?

We’ll always love Gasquet. He was doomed from the start, having come up at the same time as the golden age of men’s tennis. But we’ll always have his would-be doping case.

Court Simonne-Mathieu: Carla Suarez Navarro vs Sloane Stephens (Fourth match of the day)

We’ll keep this one brief here and mostly just explain what a joy it is to see Carla Suarez Navarro back in our lives. After what she’s been through since September 2020, it’s a minor miracle that she’s alive at all, let alone competing at this year’s French Open.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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