By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • John Millman v Alexander Zverev [5] | First meeting
  • Simona Halep [3] v Ajla Tomljanovic | Halep leads H2H 1-0 (Tour level)
  • Jelena Ostapenko v Victoria Azarenka | First meeting
PARIS, FRANCE – Defending champion Simona Halep starts her campaign, with a supporting cast of Alexander Zverev, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka in the wings.

 

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John Millman v Alexander Zverev [5] | First meeting

Alexander Zverev in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018

Alexander Zverev in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)

With so much expectation heaped upon his string bean shoulders last year, it will have been a relief for the weary Alexander Zverev to have finally made it to a second week at a Slam but the three five-setters he played before his quarter-final against Dominic Thiem cost him dear.

His lead up last year had made it seem he was nailed on to be the heir apparent, so maybe it is a good thing that his road to Roland Garros has been a little more tortuous this year with him finally winning a title in a rain-soaked Geneva.

He will be up against the tricky John Millman. The Aussie journeyman famously dumped Roger Federer out of the US Open last year in arguably a career highlight match, and Zverev can expect to be dragged into long and arduous rallies as the Aussie tries to drain Zverev’s life-force.

However, this is one thing that Zverev can hang with, well. Together with a capable serving, especially on his second serve, Zverev will most likely come through this with ease, although it would not be a total surprise if Millman snuck a set off him.

Prediction: Zverev in three sets.

 

Simona Halep [3] v Ajla Tomljanovic | Halep leads H2H 1-0 (Tour level)

Having thrown herself into all the tasks that befit a (potentially) outgoing champion, it is time to get down to business for Simona Halep. An early exit with a slight niggle has given her a fair bit of time to prepare to the Parisian air, and she starts against Ajla Tomljanovic, who was maybe a little more consistent in the early stages of the clay court season, and maybe tailed off a little towards the final build-up to Roland Garros.

The gritty scrambler from Romania may have a few nerves opening her account and will have to be at her returning best against the big-serving Aussie, but overall should come through with no issues.

Prediction: Halep in straight sets

 

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Jelena Ostapenko v Victoria Azarenka | First meeting

Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the WTA Mutua Madrid Open 2018

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

This was one of the first-round matches that really caught the eye, and the organisers have saved it for the last day of opening round matches. It seems very strange that this pair have not met before, but this first meeting looks set to be intriguing.

With Victoria Azarenka’s surge back up the rankings after maybe a frustrating start to the year, where her first-round loss at the Australian Open saw her in tears, not understanding what was missing in terms of translating what was working on the practice court into matches.

Fast forward, and there have been some far more encouraging flurries of activity. She reached the final of Monterrey but sadly had to retire in that match and also in the quarter-final in Stuttgart but reaching the quarter-final of Rome was perhaps a decent indicator of what she might be capable of here in Paris.

Meanwhile the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko has struggled a lot this year for consistency. Her only back to back win this year came in Charleston. It feels like Azarenka has been just a little more consistent and has admitted she plays a much more mature game.

This will not be an easy match, but Azarenka can certainly mix up the guest list for the later stages of the tournament.

Prediction: Azarenka in three sets.

 

Play starts on Day Three of Roland Garros at 11am (10am BST).

 

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