The battle of the fades – Raonic vs. Kyrgios – opens up for Canada at the French Open

ROLAND GARROS – Said Canadian Milos Raonic to the Parisian coiffeur: "Just shorten it, please."

While he probably – mercifully – can't see the back of his own head, Raonic had no idea at the time that the next day, when the French Open men's singles draw was made, his first-round opponent would be Aussie Nick Kyrgios, a young gun who has already taken that look one step further.

The No. 8 seed wastes no time getting to it, as the battle of the 'fades leads off the action on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the second-largest court, at 11 a.m. Paris time on Sunday as the French Open gets under way.

The Sunday start is unusual for Grand Slams, and indeed there's a small schedule limited to the show courts. But this particular one is highly anticipated.

If Raonic, at 23, is part of Generation Next along with contemporaries Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori, all of them already among the top 12 players in the world, Kyrgios may be the leader of the wave just behind them.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 171 pounds, 19 just last month, Kyrgios is currently ranked No. 170 on the ATP Tour and received a wild card into the main draw under a reciprocal agreement the French Open has with the Australian Open.

Just a year ago, he won the Australian Open junior singles title and the French Open and Wimbledon junior doubles titles. A year ago, just turned 18 and with a first French Open wild card, he defeated accomplished veteran Radek Stepanek in straight sets in the first round. So his rise has been very swift.

This spring, on the American clay circuit, Kyrgios won back-to-back Challenger tournaments, dropping just three sets in 10 matches.

At the exact same age Kyrgios is now, Raonic was ranked No. 376 and losing in the first and second rounds of Futures events – the lowest rung of the professional tennis ladder. He didn't come into the pros with nearly the same type of junior pedigree and. In his first French Open in 2011, aged 20 1/2, he lost a first-round match to the German Michael Berrer, who lost in the qualifying this year.

And look where Raonic is now. So Kyrgios is certainly one to watch out for.

"He's got what some people label as some kind of a swagger, but I just see it as confidence. He's got that," Raonic said about the matchup. "He's going to go for his shots, and I'm going to make him feel like he has to, make him feel as uncomfortable as possible. I'm pretty good at that."

The match is set for 5 a.m. EDT, and is scheduled to be broadcast live on TSN with a repeat at 10:30 a.m., for those of you who aren't Sunday earlybirds. Another Canadian, Peter Polansky, will play No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych a little later on on Court 1. That match will be available on TSN's GO platform.

Over the last few days, Raonic has hit with his share of premium practice partners, including Fabio Fognini, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov.

He also hit the Roland Garros rooftop to do a little television.

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