French Open 2013: Underrated Players with Best Upset Potential

John RozumCorrespondent IMay 28, 2013

What out for USA's Varvara Lepchenko.
What out for USA's Varvara Lepchenko.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The 2013 French Open supplies a dearth of talent capable of making a strong run to build Grand Slam tournament momentum.

Obvious names that instantly come to everyone's mind are Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, among others. The clay court of Roland Garros, though, certainly has the potential to provide upsets as everything unfolds.

With two days of action complete thus far, let's check out remaining underrated contenders that possess upset capabilities.


Kei Nishikori

Japan's Kei Nishikori displayed his utmost potential in defeating Federer during the Madrid Open. Easily his best win of the season, Nishikori is poised for a deep run.

Regarding his French Open, Niskikori steamrolled his Round 1 opponent, Canada's Jesse Levine, in straight sets. Nishikori only dropped five games in the three sets, which came courtesy of his ability to dominate the net and in break-point situations.

Provided he continues to minimize his opposition's space for open returns, Nishikori will receive a Round 4 showdown against Nadal. And that would be an opportunity for a gargantuan upset.

Monica Puig

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico has already pulled off a big upset in the women's bracket.

Facing Nadia Petrova in Round 1, the Russian ranked No. 11 in the WTA entering the Roland Garros. Well, that didn't intimidate Puig, who dropped the first set to come back and take the second and third en route to victory.

As the match progressed, Puig gradually gained control of the net and had fewer unforced errors. She also built the advantage on return scoring, which allowed for an immediate shift in momentum during the second and third sets.

With the established talent proven here to compete among better competition, Puig's confidence makes her a dangerous foe as the French Open continues.

Varvara Lepchenko

Varvara Lepchenko has kept improving her performance on clay. Prior to the French Open she logged wins over Roberta Vinci (twice) and Sara Errani (once), which simply assists with confidence.

That said, Lepchenko also smashed her first-round opponent—Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia—in straight sets (6-1, 6-2). Lepchenko worked nicely around the net, crushed when serving and was solid for break points to never relinquish the lead.

Factor in a favorable draw and Lepchenko has quarterfinals potential. Although she'll likely have to go through Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki to get there, neither are extensively dominate contenders on clay.

In short, Lepchenko must be counted as a strong threat to pull impressive upsets.