Felix vs. Fabio Among Five Matches To Watch At Roland Garros

Felix vs. Fabio Among Five Matches To Watch At Roland Garros
By: ATP World Tour Posted On: May 25, 2023 View: 35

The Roland Garros draw has thrown up a host of intriguing first-round matchups as the ATP Tour’s finest seek a fast start at the 2023 edition of the clay-court Grand Slam.

With the action set to kick off on Sunday in Paris, ATPTour.com highlights five first-round matches to watch.

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[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. Fabio Fognini [ITA]
The 10th-seeded Auger-Aliassime faces one of the ATP Tour’s biggest entertainers first up in Paris. The 35-year-old Fognini, an eight-time tour-level titlist on clay and former Roland Garros quarter-finalist, will be a stern opening test for the Canadian, who won their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 2019.

Auger-Aliassime has struggled to find his best level on the European clay this year (he holds a 1-2 record) but is into the quarter-finals this week in Lyon. The former Top 10 star Fognini may have dropped to No. 130 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but the Italian has made a habit of rising to the big occasion.

[14] Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs. Benoit Paire (FRA)
Few occasions faze the rock-solid Norrie, but taking on the unpredictable Paire in front of a partisan French crowd is sure to test the Briton’s mental resilience. Norrie beat the former World No. 18 on hard courts in Auckland in 2019 and at the 2022 US Open: Can he do it again on the Parisian clay?

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[19] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Wu Yibing (CHN)
Bautista Agut has twice reached the fourth round at Roland Garros but will be wary of the threat of Wu, who became the first Chinese ATP Tour champion in history in February in Dallas. Bautista Agut will attempt to exploit Wu’s relative lack of experience on clay in the pair’s maiden tour-level meeting.

Before he beat Richard Gasquet in Rome earlier this month, Wu had never won a tour-level match on clay. Yet the 23-year-old now has three victories on the surface and could make it four when he steps on court for his quarter-final in Geneva on Thursday.

[21] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) vs. Jiri Lehecka (CZE)
Struff arrives in Paris in red-hot form after he reached the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals as a qualifier and the Madrid final as a lucky loser. Now at a career-high No. 26 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the German will need to bring his free-flowing best to hold off the 21-year-old Lehecka, a finalist at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals.

After his strong display in Milan, Lehecka made his mark on the Grand Slam stage by reaching the quarter-finals at January’s Australian Open. Despite a modest run of results on the clay so far this year, the Czech has the power to compete with Struff from the baseline.

[30] Ben Shelton (USA) vs. Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
#NextGenATP Shelton’s year of discovery on the ATP Tour continues with his debut at Roland Garros. Shelton had not left the United States prior to last December, but now enters a Grand Slam as a seeded player for the first time. Italy’s Sonego, who possesses one of the most aggressive gamestyles on Tour, will seek revenge for his defeat to the American in Cincinnati last year.

Shelton competed on red clay for the first time in his career, including as a junior, in Estoril in April, and has notched two tour-level wins on the surface. The Australian Open quarter-finalist will look to deploy his big lefty serve to good effect as he looks to kick-start another deep run at a major.

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