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French Open 2013: Showcasing Most Intriguing Day 1 Matches

ROME, ITALY - MAY 13: Milos Raonic of Canada plays a backhand against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in their first round match during day two of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre  on May 13, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 25, 2013

Two top contenders will be in action on Day 1 of the 2013 French Open. Both Roger Federer and Serena Williams will begin their journey to what they each hope is a Grand Slam title on Sunday.

But while both Federer and Williams are expected to cruise through to the second round, there are some other under-the-radar matches that offer much more for tennis fans.

Here, we'll bypass Fed and Serena, instead showcasing the most intriguing Day 1 matches to watch for on Sunday.

 

Gilles Simon (15) vs. Lleyton Hewitt

At age 32, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt is done winning Grand Slams, but that doesn't mean he can't upend 15th-seeded Gilles Simon on Sunday in the two players' opening match in Paris.

Sure, the Aussie veteran has never fared all that well at Roland Garros, but he's a relentless player who always seems to make things interesting. Meanwhile, Simon is playing at a high level on red clay coming in, which should give him plenty of confidence in the early goings.

As Lindsay Gibbs points out, this is a first-round match with the potential to go the distance.

Simon has owned Hewitt in the head-to-head over the course of their careers, but these two have never met on clay before. Just another reason to watch.

 

Urszula Radwanska vs. Venus Williams (30)

After missing the French Open in 2011 and bowing out in the second round at Roland Garros a year ago, Venus Williams will look to keep her solid season going with a win over Polish youngster Urszula Radwanska on Sunday.

If the last name Radwanska sounds familiar, it should. Urszula's older sister is world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who reached the final at Wimbledon last year, ultimately losing to Venus' younger sister, Serena.

That said, there will certainly be no shortage of storylines heading into this first-round battle.

It seems Williams should have the edge against Radwanska, considering that she boasts tons more experience than the 22-year-old. But based on the fact that Radwanska has been able to pick up big clay-court wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Ana Ivanovic this season, look for Agnieszka's little sister to pull off the upset on Sunday.

 

Milos Raonic (14) vs. Xavier Malisse

Twenty-two-year-old Canadian sensation Milos Raonic has a monster serve that can give any player on tour trouble, but the red stuff is notorious for taking the sizzle off shots and forcing big-serving players to adjust.

Raonic's first-round opponent, Xavier Malisse, is 10 years older and has seen just about everything there is to see on a tennis court. Unfortunately, the Belgian hasn't seen much success at Grand Slams over the course of his career, reaching the semifinals just once at Wimbledon in 2002. 

He hasn't been past the fourth round at a major tournament before or since. 

But don't expect Malisse to just bow down to Raonic on Sunday. Keep in mind that the 14th-seeded star is making just his third career appearance in Paris. He fell in the third round in 2012 after exiting in the opening round in 2011.

This is another classic matchup of young vs. old that fans won't want to miss on Day 1.

 

Click here to view the entire Day 1 order of play via RolandGarros.com.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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