French Open 2009 Day Four Preview: Nadal and Safina in Action

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French Open 2009 Day Four Preview: Nadal and Safina in Action
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
There is truly too much good stuff to fit into a preview of Day four of the 2009 French Open, so we will start with the first match on the No. 1 show court, Phillipe Chatrier, and go from there.

Murray up First

To kick off the second round, Andy Murray will face Italian Potito Starace at 11 A.M. Though the 28-year-old from Benevento Italy sports a lowly 9-13 record for 2009, he's actually had more promising results during the European clay swing.

Still, his best results of the year were a quarter final loss in Munich in early May. Murray should chew him up and spit him out and if he doesn't it will likely say more about the type of player that Andy Murray is on clay, and less about Starace's legitimacy. Currently ranked 104, Starace has never won a singles title on tour. He and Murray have never played one another.

Both No. 1 Seeds Will Be In Action
Rafael Nadal and Dinara Safina will also be among tomorrows headline acts. Safina will face her country mate Vitalia Diatchenko, a qualifier. Diatchenko, a 19-year-old from Moscow, is making her first-ever appearance in a Grand-Slam.

She is most likely comforted by the fact that she can do no worse than Safina's first victim, Anne Kheotovang of Great Britian, who was brutally bageled by Safina in a sixty-one minute laugher in the first round.
(Safina's dear brother Marat Safin will also be in action on Chatrier, facing Frenchman Josselin Ouannan in the fourth match of the day.)
With each successive win for Rafael Nadal, his kingdom of Nadal on clay expands. With a victory over Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili in the final match of five on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Rafa will take over the all-time record for consecutive wins at Roland Garros with 30. He will eclipse the legendary Chris Evert, possibly the greatest at Roland Garros of all-time, who saw her streak of 29 end in 1981.
Nadal was victorious over Gabashvili in Miami, 6-2, 6-2, and is now 29-0 on the fabled Roland Garros clay for his career.

Sharapova set to clash with Petrova
After losing the first set on Monday to Bulgarian Anastasiya Yakimova, Sharapova quickly found her rhythm and basically pulverized Yakimova into submission. But tomorrows test could prove more difficult.
Nadia Petrova, seeded 11th, is a two-time Roland Garros semi-finalist. In six previous matches against Petrova, Sharapova has won five. If Sharapova maintains the form enabled her to easily dismiss Yakimova, she might score an easy win. If she's bothered by the effects of her recent shoulder surgery, it could be another story entirely.
The intriguing and sure to be entertaining match will be the fourth match of the afternoon on Suzanne Lenglen.

Good-bye Fabrice? Good-bye Marat?
The magician, local favorite and Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, was granted a reprieve yesterday. After breaking serve in the 8th game of the fourth set to stay alive in the match, darkness intervened. The match was called with Santoro to serve, down 3-5 in the 4th set, and down two sets to one against Belgian Christopher Rochus.
The fortunate ticket holders at Suzanne Lenglen will get the conclusion of this match, sure to be high on emotional content regardless of the outcome, after Safina and Diatchenko's match.
Santoro, along with Marat Safin, could see the end of their brilliant Roland Garros careers tomorrow. Santoro has only missed one French Open since 1989 (20 appearances).
In 11 appearances, Safin has visited the quarter finals once, and the semi finals in 2002.
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