French Open 2013: Biggest Surprises so Far at Roland Garros

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French Open 2013:  Biggest Surprises so Far at Roland Garros
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Jamie Hampton has pulled off some upsets to advance to the fourth round of the French Open.

Most of the big names are still around at the 2013 French Open, but that doesn't mean everything has gone according to plan.

Even if the usual suspects meet again in the waning rounds, the ride there has raised some eyebrows. Novak Djokovic faced an early first-round scare against David Goffin, but he was not the only male star forced to fight to see another day.

On the women's side, an unlikely underdog has emerged, and a surprising amount of competitors from a certain country you might know are still alive and well.

Here are some of the notable takeaways from the opening rounds of action at Roland Garros.

 

Rafael Nadal is Not Superhuman

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Rafael Nadal is not perfect. Even on clay.

Even on the clay courts, Rafael Nadal has not been a tennis cyborg toying with his unworthy foes. He still advanced through three rounds, so there's that, but he actually let the other guys look decent for brief stretches along the way.

David Brands took the first set from Nadal, and he nearly stole the second one too before the Spaniard salvaged it in a tiebreaker. Nadal also dropped the opening set to Martin Klizan before winning the final three. And although he handled Fabio Fognini in three sets, they were tightly contested.

The rain forced Nadal into competing two days in a row, which is not how he wanted to assimilate to a major tournament after missing significant time with a knee injury. He's claimed seven of the past eight French Open titles, but he could suffer a rare defeat this year.

 

Jamie Hampton Upsets Petra Kvitova

Just making the third round deserves recognition in itself for Jamie Hampton, the 54th-ranked 23-year-old who bested No. 25 seed Lucie Safarova in the opening round.

Then she continued her improbable run by shocking No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova in the third round of play. She'll get another highly-ranked opponent in No. 18 Jelena Jankovic during the fourth round.

This may signify more than a fluke run for Hampton, who labored into the third round of the Australian Open before this rousing performance. 

 

American Women Keep on Rolling

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Sloane Stephens has a chance to make major noise with an upset over Maria Sharapova.

Hampton is not the only American woman defying expectations in Paris.

Three other women from the U.S. will join Hampton in the fourth round, which is the most at this junction of the tournament since 2004. While Serena Williams' presence was a near automatic, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sloane Stephens also remain in the pack of 16. 

For Mattek-Sands, ranked 67th, this is the furthest she has advanced in a Grand Slam since making the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008. She'll look to extend her run against No. 12 Maria Kirilenko.

Only 20 years old, Stephens is appearing in her second straight fourth round at the French Open. Already labeled a future American tennis star, she could become a household name by defeating Maria Sharapova.

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