What to look for Thursday at the French Open
PARIS (AP) — Five things to look for Thursday at the French Open:
THE MAIN ATTRACTION: Three days after playing his opening match in the second biggest stadium at the French Open, Rafael Nadal will make his first appearance on the main stage.
The eight-time French Open champion will face Dominic Thiem of Austria in the second round on Thursday. The match will be played on Court Philippe Chatrier, the showcase stadium at Roland Garros.
After his opening win on Monday on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Nadal played down the significance of being forced to play on a smaller court for his first match.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s Chatrier or Lenglen or another court, (being) around here in Roland Garros (is) always going to be great,” the top-seeded Spaniard said. “I am not sure, but probably next one (I’m) going to play in Chatrier. That’s it.”
He was right, and given Nadal’s history at the clay-court major — he’s 60-1 — he will be playing on the big court a few more times this year.
PAST CHAMPIONS ON COURT: With three former French Open women’s champions already eliminated, that leaves three more with a chance to win this year’s tournament.
Two of them, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, will play in the second round on Thursday.
Ivanovic, the 2008 champion at Roland Garros, is seeded 11th this year and will face Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the main stadium.
Over on Court No. 2, 2009 champion Kuznetsova, seeded 27th, will take on Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Serena Williams, Li Na and Francesca Schiavone are all former champions that have already been eliminated this year. The only other French Open winner still in the women’s draw is Maria Sharapova.
BACK AT IT: American player Steve Johnson will be back on court Thursday for the third day in a row.
The two-time NCAA singles champion from the University of Southern California finished off a five-set win over Laurent Lokoli of France on Wednesday, a match that had been suspended by darkness the night before.
On Thursday, Johnson will face another American in the second round, Jack Sock.
WATCH IT: Andy Murray will be favored to win his second-round match on Thursday, but he’ll be facing an opponent on quite a winning streak at Grand Slam tournaments.
Murray, the reigning Wimbledon champion, skipped the French Open last year but reached the quarterfinals in 2012 and the semifinals the year before that.
His opponent on Thursday will be Marinko Matosevic, a 28-year-old Australian who won his first match at a Grand Slam on Tuesday in the first round — in his 13th appearance.
“He’s a good ball striker. He’s had some good wins on the tour as a result of maybe being a bit up and down,” Murray said. “But he can play good tennis. He’s a strong guy. Yeah, it will be tough.”
WEATHER: The weather in Paris has been cold and overcast, with plenty of showers.
Although the rain hasn’t caused many delays, it’s a persistent threat, and it’s likely to stay that way.
Brief showers are again forecast for Thursday, with the remainder of the second-round matches on the schedule.