This post previews the best of the second round matches set for Thursday at Roland Garros including Bouchard-Bacsinszky, V.Williams v Chirico, Petkovic v Putintseva and Mladenovic v Babos. A final Set Points will come later tonight to wrap up day 4 action at the French Open.
1. Timea Bacsinszky (8) v Eugenie Bouchard
In a battle of the B’s, the stand-out match from Thursday’s list of second round matches will feature Timea Bacsinszky and Eugenie Bouchard. Bacsinszky was embroiled in a clay-court tussle early on against Silvia Soler-Espinosa in her first round match; twice she went down a break in the first set but after levelling up at 3-3, the Swiss player won nine of the last ten games.
Bouchard had a smooth victory over Laura Siegemund, 6-2 6-2; she recovered from an early break down in the second set after Siegemund had taken an extended break. Considering how well the German player has been playing in 2016, it was a superb win. Both players sounded very positive in press and happy with their first round performances with quotes in this WTA article HERE.
Head-to-head record: In their only previous match-up, Bacsinszky defeated Bouchard at Indian Wells earlier this year, 6-2 5-7 6-2. It was the match where Timea had an almighty tumble but got patched up and came back to win.
Interesting stat: Bacsinszky and Bouchard have had past success at Roland Garros with Timea reaching the semi-finals in 2015 and Genie reaching the same stage in 2014. Both players were just one set away from the final.
Final thoughts: I’d fancy the winner of this match to come through this second quarter of the draw… but i’ve got no idea who that will be! I like how both players are sounding in press and this could be a brilliant match. As a Bacsinszky fan, i’m wary of the threat that Bouchard poses and I think coming in as the underdog will favour the Canadian player. I think the surface is decent for both players although i’m slightly more confident in the level that Bacsinszky can produce as Bouchard has thrown in some sub-standard displays of late. I’m really torn…
2. Venus Williams (9) v Louisa Chirico
An all-American second rounder is on the the cards when Venus Williams and Louisa Chirico meet in the second round on Thursday, last up on Suzanne Lenglen. After her season started with a stutter due to a nasty ankle sprain, Chirico has settled into her groove on clay and won 12 matches before heading into Paris. Of course, the highlight was a run to the semi-finals of Madrid as a qualifier. Since her ranking wasn’t high enough at the entry deadline, Chirico was forced to play qualifying and she dealt with the pressure and expectation to reach the main draw.
In the first round, Chirico edged a nailbiter against Lauren Davis, 6-2 2-6 8-6. Chirico missed two match points having had a sizable lead in the third set, but then saved multiple break points that would have given Davis the opportunity to serve for the match. Venus faced the big-hitting Anett Kontaveit in the first round and did well to survive, winning a very tight two setter.
Head-to-head record: This will be the first time that Venus and Louisa have played each other on the WTA tour.
Interesting stat: Chirico’s win over Davis was in fact her first Slam main draw win of her career. For Venus, she’ll be bidding to reach the third round of the French Open for the first time since 2010.
Final thoughts: I like Chirico’s chances in this match… she has confidence, not only from winning plenty of matches on clay and coming through qualifying, but also from the win over Davis where she was on the brink of letting things slide and had to refocus. One thing you know you will get in this one is a committed display and tons of fight from Venus. If Chirico can make Venus move and stay calm herself, I think this one is a legitimate upset alert.
3. Andrea Petkovic (28) v Yulia Putintseva
Bring it onnnn… this one has all the ingredients to be a feisty affair between Andrea Petkovic and Yulia Putintseva. Petkovic came into Paris on a three match losing streak. Her last match in Rome, a defeat to Madison Keys, was one of her weakest performances of the entire season. The German player rebounded in the first round with a solid win over Laura Robson, 6-2 6-2. It was a good draw for Petkovic and while the scoreline didn’t quite reflect the tightness of some of the games, particularly at the start of the second set, it was a decent performance. Putintseva flew through her opener against Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-1 6-1. The Canadian player was in action for the first time since the middle of April.
Head-to-head record: Petkovic and Putintseva are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head; Petkovic won their only completed encounter at Indian Wells in 2013, 6-0 6-2. In their last match in Nurnberg, Putintseva advanced up 5-0 when Petkovic retired.
Interesting stat: Putintseva will be aiming to reach the third round of the French Open for the first time in her career, while Petkovic is a former semi-finalist from 2014.
Final thoughts: It’s tough to separate these two… The first round win will have freed up Petkovic following a couple of poor losses. Putitntseva has all the weapons and tactics to make this an uncomfortable day for the German player but she remains unconvincing at times, particularly in maintaining leads. On the fence with this one and it’s a hugeee match with Azarenka no longer in this section of the draw.
4. Kristina Mladenovic (26) v Timea Babos
Former doubles, partners, Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos will meet in this intriguing second round clash that will be played last up on Philippe Chatrier. The pair have gone in opposite directions in singles this year; while Mladenovic has been struggling for form, Babos is enjoying her best ever season in singles. Mladenovic has at least stopped the rot and played well in Strasbourg last week, snapping a four match losing streak to reach the semi-finals.
Mladenovic continued to show improved form with a first round win over former champion, Francesca Schiavone, 6-2 6-4. Babos went in as the favourite in her first round match against Samantha Crawford and delivered the goods, coming through, 6-4 6-0.
Head-to-head record: Mladenovic leads Babos in the head-to-head, 3-1. Mladenovic won their most recent encounter at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-2. It was Babos though who won their only clay court encounter in Marrakech last year, 6-4 6-4.
Interesting stat: Mladenovic has lost her first match at nine out of 14 tournaments this year. On the other hand, Babos has only lost her first match at three tournaments this year, posting a superb 21-13 W-L record. The Hungarian player is currently at number 15 in the Race to Singapore.
Final thoughts: Mladenovic will have the home support and she seems to thrive off this based on her recent performances at Roland Garros as well as the run in Strasbourg. However, it’s hard to ignore Babos’s excellent form throughout most of the year…