Stay tuned for updates throughout the French Open as Nick's Pick will bring you daily analysis and predictions!
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Bethanie Mattek (USA)
Venus comes into the tournament ranked #3 in the world and having already won two titles this year (one on clay). She reached the finals at Roland Garros back in 2002, but has failed to get past the quarterfinals since. The last two years she has lost in the third round. I think she will have more success in 2009!
Mattek is playing in only her third French Open, and has never been past the second round. She comes in ranked #45 in the world, down eight spots from her career high which she achieved back in March. She is 3-4 on clay this year, but still has the talent to push the top players.
Venus is 1-0 against Mattek, with that win coming at Wimbledon in 2006. Everyone looks forward to seeing Mattek play so they can see what she is wearing! She is flashy on the court, and has a powerful game. That will not be enough to beat Venus though because of Venus' length, movement, and groundstrokes. The one thing Venus has to watch out for is that sometimes she is a slow starter and she cannot let Mattek dictate play and push her back on her heels. I am going with Venus in straight sets, but I think this will be competitive.
Nick's Pick - V. Williams in 2 sets
Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. Anne Keothavong (GBR)
Safina is the favorite to win this tournament, and she should be. Right now she is playing better than anyone in the world, and she knows she has what it takes to win her first Grand Slam. I think she will be disappointed with anything less than a run to the finals!
Keothavong is a very solid player who is currently ranked #56 in the world. She just reached the semis in Warsaw on clay and will not be lacking confidence in this match. Although she is 25 years old, this is her first appearance in the main draw of the French Open!
This will be the first career match between Keothavong and Safina. Keothavong's preferred surface is hard, but she is still a good clay-courter. She has a big forehand and moves very well and is a smart player. Safina cannot let Keothavong frustrate her and take her off her game. In the long run, Safina's ability to consistently pound groundstroke after groundstroke will wear Keothavong down. Safina is playing better defensive tennis, has cut down on her unforced errors, and she knows she is the best in the world. I look for Safina to move on.
Nick's Pick - Safina in 2 sets
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. Petra Cetkovska (CZE)
After finishing strong in 2008, Jankovic hasn't had the year she wanted. She is down to #5 in the world and has a 23-8 record thus far in '09. She needs to regain her flexibility and speed that made her so dangerous over the last year and a half. Jankovic has reached the semifinals for the last two years so she knows she has plenty of points to defend this year.
Cetkovska is a 24-year old woman from the Czech Republic who comes into the tournament ranked #82 in the world. In her one and only appearance at the French Open last year, she advanced to the fourth round before falling to Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-0.
This is the first career match between Cetkovska and Jankovic. Cetkovska has yet to really break though on the WTA Tour, but she did have success at last year's French Open. She is solid on clay, but doesn't have the weapons to take down the Serb. Jankovic is solid all the way around, and if anything falters it will be her serve a little. I don't see her losing this match, but that doesn't mean Jankovic needs to take Cetkovska lightly either!
Nick's Pick - Jankovic in 2 sets
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs. Alexa Glatch (USA)
Pennetta comes in ranked #14 in the world, down three spots from her career high ranking of #11 which she achieved back in February. She reached the fourth round at Roland Garros last year, which is her best result at the tournament.
Glatch is a good young American who is ranked #117 in the world. She is playing in her first Roland Garros, but that won't make her nervous whatsoever. Glatch is confident in her abilities and she won two pressure packed matches for the USA in the Fed Cup earlier this year.
This is the first career meeting between Glatch and Pennetta and should be a good one. Glatch is solid from both sides, has a big serve, and has a nice slice backhand that will allow her to change the tempo. Playing on clay doesn't help her though as it will give Pennetta extra time to track down her shots and force her to make errors. Pennetta is extremely comfortable on clay, can change the pace and is very consistent. If this match was on a hard court or grass, Glatch would be right with Pennetta, but on clay you have to give the edge to the Italian.
Nick's Pick - Pennetta in 2 sets