There are few moments of relaxation for tennis' best at the French Open, one of the most demanding Grand Slam events on the calendar.
On Saturday, men's and women's singles action picks right back up with the conclusion of third-round play. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray headline the men's stars on the slate, while Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic highlight the women's contenders on display.
Below you'll find the Day 7 order of play at Roland Garros as well as some predictions for Saturday's action.
|Court Philippe Chatrier (5 a.m. ET)||Matchup|
|(5) Petra Kvitova vs. (27) Svetlana Kuznetsova|
|(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Leonardo Mayer|
|(28) Andrea Petkovic vs. Kristina Mladenovic|
|(12) Richard Gasquet vs. (24) Fernando Verdasco|
|Court Suzanne Lenglen (5 a.m. ET)||Matchup|
|(15) Sloane Stephens vs. (22) Ekaterina Makarova|
|(23) Lucie Safarova vs. (11) Ana Ivanovic|
|(23) Gael Monfils vs. (14) Fabio Fognini|
|(28) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (7) Andy Murray|
|Court 1 (5 a.m. ET)||Matchup|
|(32) Andreas Seppi vs. (5) David Ferrer|
|(6) Jelena Jankovic vs. (26) Sorana Cirstea|
|Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Donald Young|
|(1) Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan vs. (15) Jamie Murray/John Peers|
*Click here to view the complete Day 7 order of play via RolandGarros.com.
Defending Champ Will Continue to Roll
Now 61-1 all-time at Roland Garros, eight-time tournament champion Rafael Nadal will be a heavy favorite to cruise past South American challenger Leonardo Mayer on Saturday.
And while we've seen a handful of stunning upsets through the first week of play, Nadal won't be troubled by Mayer this weekend. The Spaniard is 2-0 all-time against the Argentine, winning all four sets against him.
What's more, the men's overall top seed is cruising at his favorite venue, walloping American Robby Ginepri in Round 1 and overwhelming Austrian up-and-comer Dominic Thiem in Round 2. In addition to passing the eye test with flying colors, Nadal has dropped a grand total of 10 games through the first two rounds.
Expect him to dispatch Mayer in straight sets on Court Philippe Chatrier on Day 7.
Watch for Nadal's bid for a ninth French Open title to remain alive past the round of 16 as well. After all, assuming he gets past Mayer, Nadal would play the winner of Jack Sock versus Dusan Lajovic. Neither player is ranked better than 75th in the world, and either would be severely overmatched against Rafa on the Paris clay.
As The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg points out, it looks to be smooth sailing for Nadal over the next two rounds:
Rafael Nadal comfortably past the promising Dominic Thiem, winning 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Hard to see anyone challenging him now before QFs. #RG14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 29, 2014
The first real test for Nadal will potentially be compatriot and fifth-seeded David Ferrer, whom he could meet in the final eight next week.
Although Nadal leads the all-time head-to-head series with Ferrer 21-6, the "Little Beast" has won two of their past three meetings, including their most recent matchup on the clay courts in Monte Carlo earlier this year.
French Stars Will Prevail
For the French fans in attendance, Nadal won't be the only draw on the men's side on Saturday. Seeded French players Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils will showcase themselves on the two main courts on Day 7, and each is in position to advance to the round of 16.
Which French men's contender will survive the longest at Roland Garros?
While the 12th-seeded Gasquet will have the more favorable matchup of the two going against 24th-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain, Monfils will be revenge-minded going up against 14th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini, the man who knocked him out of the 2010 French Open after a grueling match that finished 9-7 in the fifth set.
But with the crowd behind them, watch for both Gasquet and Monfils to prevail on Saturday and reach the round of 16. Don't forget, while Gasquet has reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros in each of the past three years, Monfils was a semifinalist back in 2008 and has reached the round of 16 on four separate occasions since 2006.
Following his second-round win over Carlos Berlocq, Gasquet talked about the crowd's impact at his home Slam, per RolandGarros.com's Dan Imhoff:
Obviously playing here just carries you. It's the second time this year, and I have some experience. And with the crowd supporting you, it's great. It was packed today. It helped me find a second stamina. I have been playing for 10 years, I have gathered experience, and when you're injured for two months, it's huge already. It's awesome to be in the third round.
The crowd will be key for both players on Saturday as they are each set to face off against capable clay-court players who have found success against them in the past.
You could argue that both matchups are toss-ups, but with a sea of enthusiastic supporters behind them, Gasquet and Monfils can't be counted out just yet.
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