PARIS – As an unseeded player, Friday’s French Open draw could have been worse for Canadian Genie Bouchard.
It could have been better, too.
In the end, she will face another unseeded opponent but one who has had good results during the clay-court tuneup season in Germany’s Laura Siegemund.
“It’s the second Grand Slam now that I’m not one of the seeds, so I could play someone like Serena in the first round, and mentally I have to be prepared for that,” Bouchard told Eh Game. “I’ve seen that she’s had good results lately, so she’s someone I won’t underestimate; I’ll go on court with a lot of respect for her, and we’ll see what happens.”
Milos Raonic, who moved up to the No. 8 seed with the withdrawal of Roger Federer, fared much better. The 25-year-old will face Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, a former top-10 player but one who has been besieged by injuries over the last few years.
Tipsarevic, now 31, is currently ranked No. 686 but is directly into the main draw on an injury-protected ranking.
He was off the ATP Tour from Oct. 2013 to April 2015 – more than a year and a half – and after a first-set, first-round loss at the US Open last August, was out again until he returned to action at a lower-level Challenger tournament three weeks ago.
Tipsarevic received a wild card into this week’s Tour event in Geneva, Switzerland, but lost in straight sets in the first round to Federico Delbonis of Argentina.
All of that to say, it’s a good first round for Raonic, who is seeded to meet No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, if both advance through the first 10 days of the tournament.
Standing in his way is a rising talent in Frenchman Lucas Pouille (whom he defeated routinely at the Australian Open on a hard court) and American Jack Sock or No. 10 Marin Cilic of Croatia.
For Raonic’s countryman Vasek Pospisil, the news wasn’t nearly as good. Pospisil will play No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the first round.
Pospisil is 2-0 against Berdych during his career, but both results came on the North American hard courts and both results are at least two years old. The Canadian had a poor clay-court swing leading into Paris – to say the least. Berdych’s results weren’t stellar either, by his standards.
The final Canadian in the main draw, Blainville, Que’s Aleksandra Wozniak, drew the feisty Yulia Putintseva of Kazahstan via Russia.
To say the least, that matchup will be a contrast in on-court demeanours. Wozniak is calm, undemonstrative on court. Putintseva is a fist-pumping machine with an impressive way of combining the Russian, French and Spanish versions of “C’MON!!!” into the same sentence.
The late withdrawals of Federer and, on Friday morning, French crowd-pleaser and dangerous opponent Gaël Monfils from the tournament certainly takes a lot of zing out of the early rounds – and perhaps even the later rounds.
Monfils is a former semi-finalist here and, as unlikely as it might seem, the one most likely to rise to the occasion and give the partial French crowd hope for a deep run. And Federer is Federer.
That said, there will still be plenty of drama when the singles get under way on Sunday.