Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Murray comes into the tournament ranked #4 in the world but his record on the year is a paltry 13-7 and he has yet to win a title in 2010. His clay court results have been okay, losing his first match at Monte Carlo, winning a round at Rome and then reaching the quarters at Madrid. It seems as those he is feeling more comfortable on the clay as the tournaments go by, and his game is adaptable to the surface. He reached the quarterfinals here last year, which is his best result thus far at Roland Garros.
Gasquet just won a Challenger title on clay in Bordeaux and before that he lost in the quarterfinals to John Isner in Serbia. I was at that match, and he seems to be playing the kind of tennis that took him to #7 in the world a couple of years ago. He is currently ranked #68, but he is a dangerous player, especially on the clay.
Gasquet is 2-1 against Murray but the two 23-year olds haven't played since the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008. This is going to be one heck of a match, and is definitely the highlight of the first round. Playing in front of his home fans, there will be pressure on Gasquet to win. Like I said above, he should've beaten Isner in Serbia and his play seems to have picked up as of late. He isn't hitting as many unforced errors and he is focused on winning again instead of all the outside distractions. He has all the tools to beat Murray, but that is much easier said than done. This has not been Murray's best year, but a deep run here would surely get him going in the right direction before Wimbledon. He cannot get pushed back behind the baseline 6-8 feet and expect to win this match. He must take it to Gasquet, which will keep the Frenchman off balance. The condition of the court will have an impact on this match. If it is dry and fast it favors Murray, if it is wet and slow it gives an edge to Gasquet. I have to give a slight edge to Murray because of all his weapons, but this will not be easy or over quickly.
Nick's Pick - Murray in 4 or 5 sets
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Robby Ginepri (USA)
Querrey comes into the French Open ranked a career high of #21 in the world. He just won the title in Serbia earlier this month but then followed it up with a first round loss in Madrid. He needs to play the kind of tennis that won him the title in Belgrade if he wants to make an impact at Roland Garros.
Ginepri is only 1-5 on the year in ATP events, but he did reach the finals of a Challenger recently in Tallahassee so that should give him some confidence. He comes in ranked #98 in the world and has only been past the first round of the French Open once in his career. That came back in 2008 when he advanced to the fourth round.
Ginepri is 1-0 against Querrey, having beaten him at Indianapolis in straight sets last year. Ginepri is going to be really hungry for a win here as he hasn't had a very good year. He serves big and will play aggressive at all times. He will have to gamble against Querrey, because his fellow American is getting better each tournament. For a big guy, Querrey moves well, takes the backhand early, has added a little slice and you know his forehand and serve are huge. He has almost cracked the top-20 for the first time in his career, and I believe he is on his way to bigger and better things. I give the edge to Querrey here.
Nick's Pick - Querrey in 4 sets
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Nishikori, an IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program student, comes into the French Open on a hot streak. He has won the last two Challenger tournaments he has played in (both on clay) and the elbow injury that hampered him for much of 2009 seems to be gone now. I look for his young Japanese star to find his way back into the top 50 very soon.
Giraldo is a 22-year old Colombian who is currently ranked a career high of #55 in the world. He won a Challenger on clay in Pereira in April, reached the fourth round (after qualifying) in Rome and qualified and reached the second round in Madrid. The last three years he has qualified for the French Open before falling in the first round, so I am sure he is looking to get past that point for the first time in his career.
This is the first career meeting between Nishikori and Giraldo and promises to be interesting. Giraldo is a very good clay-courter who moves well and can change the pace with the best of them. Growing up on the clay in Colombia, he knows how to win on the surface and will be a dangerous opponent for Kei.
I've worked with Kei for many years now, and he is back to the person that we saw in 2008. He can sting and bite you from anywhere on the court and his âjump shotsâ from both sides are really fun to watch. His movement is simply incredible and that is what separates him from his opponents. This will be a fun match to watch, but the way Kei is playing now I have to give the edge to him.
Nick's Pick - Nishikori in 4 sets