French Open 2013: Contenders Coming on Strong at Roland Garros

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French Open 2013: Contenders Coming on Strong at Roland Garros
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While all eyes are on the big names this summer at the 2013 French Open, there are a handful of under-the-radar contenders coming on strong.

A past champion, finalist and semifinalist on the red clay of Paris currently find themselves in the third round of the season's second Slam, just two match wins away from the quarterfinals. 

Below we'll highlight three contenders to keep a close eye on as the first week of the French Open gets set to conclude.

 

David Ferrer (4)

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A semifinalist at the French Open a year ago, fourth-seeded David Ferrer will look to take advantage of a favorable draw this year and make another deep run.

Ferrer is off to a hot start through the first two rounds in Paris. He has won his first two matches, each in straight sets. Next up for the 31-year-old Spaniard is compatriot Feliciano Lopez in Round 3. 

A tough match no doubt, but one that Ferrer will be the favorite to win heading in.

In his second-round win over Albert Montanes, Ferrer was on top of his return game, winning 57 percent of his receiving points for the match and recording 29 winners in all. If he continues to return well and strike more winners than errors, there's no reason why he can't return to the semis this June and potentially shock second-seeded Roger Federer to reach his first-ever Grand Slam final.

Easier said than done, sure. But Ferrer is more than capable on the red clay.

 

Samantha Stosur (9)

Credit: Instagram.com/RolandGarros

2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur has achieved plenty of success at the French Open over the years, even if she's yet to claim a title.

The 29-year-old Aussie reached the semifinals in 2012, and was a finalist at Roland Garros in 2010. After defeating Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets on Thursday, Stosur has reached the third round in Paris for the fifth consecutive year.

In her most recent victory over Mladenovic, Stosur was tremendous, putting 75 percent of her first serves in the box and winning 14 of 17 points at the net. 

Stosur also lucked out, avoiding Serena Williams in the draw, and wouldn't have to play the world No. 1 until a potential matchup in the final. Stosur could take on defending tournament champion Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, however. 

 

Ana Ivanovic (14)

Ana Ivanovic, who won the French Open in 2008, is coming on strong this summer in Paris. She has opened the tournament with consecutive wins, including a straight-sets win in the second round.

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The 25-year-old Serb has reached the third round at Roland Garros for the second straight year and looks in position to advance to the fourth round for the first time since 2009. 

She's definitely cleaned up her game since the first round. After committing 36 unforced errors in her opener, which she won in three sets, Ivanovic bounced back to only record 10 errors in Round 2. If she can continue to limit her mistakes in the coming days, there's no one in her quarter of the draw she can't beat.

It's still early, but Ivanovic has a good shot to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the fist time since she last won here in 2008. If she can beat Virginie Razzano in the third round and possibly overcome fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the round of 16, she'll be through to the quarters. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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