What to look for Saturday at the French Open
PARIS (AP) — Five things to look for Saturday at the French Open:
STRAIGHT SETS?: Rafael Nadal can gain a slight edge on his three main challengers at the French Open by winning his next match in straight sets.
The eight-time champion will face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina on Saturday in the third round. And so far, the top-seeded Spaniard has not dropped a set at this year’s tournament.
The same cannot be said of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray. All three players have dropped one set.
However, Nadal isn’t bothered by those types of numbers, for himself or anyone else.
“If you play bad when you can play bad and you are able to find a solution to win, you will have another day,” Nadal said after his second-round victory. “If the day that you have to play well you play well, that’s it. Doesn’t matter what happened before.”
KEEPING AT IT: Ana Ivanovic won the French Open when she was 20, and she’s grown up a lot since then.
Now 26, Ivanovic is back in the third round of the French Open for the third straight year and will face Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic on Saturday. Ivanovic reached the fourth round last year, her best result at Roland Garros since losing at that same stage as defending champion in 2009.
“Every experience is something that you learn and you improve on. I do feel like I’m a different player now with everything that I’ve been through,” the 11th-seeded Ivanovic said after her previous victory. “Just as (a) person I feel like I matured a lot, I grew up.”
TOUGH DRAW: If Andy Murray thinks back to the last time he faced Philipp Kohlschreiber, he won’t be smiling.
The Wimbledon champion will meet Kohlschreiber in the third round of the French Open on Saturday, their second head-to-head meeting.
“I played him once before on clay and I think I got three games or something,” said Murray, who lost 6-2, 6-1 in Monte Carlo in 2010. “It will be very tough.”
To make things more difficult for Murray, he’ll be facing a player who won a title on clay last week in Duesseldorf, Germany.
“So, yeah,” Murray said, “he will be very tough, very good player.”
CUT TO THE CHASE: Don’t expect David Ferrer’s haircut to have any impact on his third-round match at the French Open.
The fifth-seeded Spaniard, who reached the final at Roland Garros last year, will face Andreas Seppi of Italy on Saturday. But after his last match, Ferrer was asked if there was a quirky reason why he trimmed his floppy locks.
“No, that was just a change, my haircut. That’s all,” Ferrer said. “There is no being superstitious about my hairdo.”
AMERICAN HOPES: Some of the young Americans at this year’s French Open are feeling right at home on the red clay of Roland Garros.
On Saturday, three will be playing for a spot in the fourth round.
Sloane Stephens faces Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, while Donald Young takes on Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain and Jack Sock plays Dusan Lajovic of Serbia.
“It hasn’t been bad for me,” said the 21-year-old Stephens, who made the fourth round at the last two French Opens. “It’s always been good, and I always enjoyed myself. I love Paris. I love being here.”
For the 24-year-old Young, getting this far at Roland Garros is quite a surprise.
“I have actually never won a match outside of the U.S. on red clay,” Young said. “So to win two here at the French Open, it means a lot.”
If Young and Sock win, they will join John Isner in the fourth round of the men’s tournament.