At long last, the top seeds are on the verge of taking to the courts and beginning their play Tuesday at the 2015 French Open.
Most of the first round is already in the books, but we won't truly be able to assess how the draws look after Round 1 until the top dogs step onto the Roland Garros courts. While the first two days of action would indicate that upsets will be hard to come by, there promise to be a handful of gripping matchups among them.
At the very least, Tuesday will offer an initial chance to see just how dangerous some of the most talked about stars are going to be over the coming weeks.
Let's take a look at all of the key matchups for Tuesday's Day 3 action in the first round and make predictions for the biggest ones.
2015 French Open Schedule: Tuesday, May 26
|Men's Singles||Time (ET) / Match No.|
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. Jarkko Nieminen||3rd Match|
|No. 6 Rafael Nadal vs. Quentin Halys||2nd Match|
|No. 7 David Ferrer vs. Lukas Lacko||5 a.m.|
|No. 9 Marin Cilic vs. Robin Haase||5 a.m.|
|No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov vs. Jack Sock||4th Match|
|No. 16 John Isner vs. Andreas Seppi||3rd Match|
|No. 20 Richard Gasquet vs. Germain Gigounon||3rd Match|
|No. 15 Kevin Anderson vs. Tim Smyczek||2nd Match|
|Women's Singles||Time (ET) / Match No.|
|No. 1 Serena Williams vs. Andrea Hlavackova||4th Match|
|No. 4 Petra Kvitova vs. Marina Erakovic||5 a.m.|
|No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Karin Knapp||2nd Match|
|No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard vs. Kristina Mladenovic||4th Match|
|No. 10 Andrea Petkovic vs. Shelby Rogers||3rd Match|
|No. 16 Madison Keys vs. Varvara Lepchenko||4th Match|
Complete schedule at RolandGarros.com
No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. Jarkko Nieminen
Novak Djokovic's quest for his first French Open and the completion of the career Grand Slam has never looked more realistic than it does entering Roland Garros this year, and he'll begin in style against Jarkko Nieminen.
While many of the top seeds have started off against qualifiers, Djokovic drew an opponent who has been as high as 13th in the world rankings. Of course, the 33-year-old is far from that player anymore with a 10-10 record in 2014.
He doesn't seem to put up much of a test against Djokovic, who has only lost two of his 37 matches so far this year and is more confident than ever about his game, per Dan Levy of France 24:
I feel like today I am more mature as a person, I have grown, I have improved, I have learned how to deal with my emotions better. Overall I’m a stronger player, physically and mentally as well. Hopefully this is the year. I’m going to try to give myself reason to believe I can make it, through an everyday commitment, discipline and things that I can influence.
An outsider could label that as all talk, but there's no doubt that Djokovic has put his money where his mouth is. He enters Roland Garros fresh off a 22-match win streak, which included a comprehensive slew of performances at the Rome Masters just prior to Paris.
A tough draw ahead won't distract Djokovic, who will look straight ahead and take down Nieminen in convincing fashion.
Prediction: Djokovic wins in straight sets
No. 1 Serena Williams vs. Andrea Hlavackova
Second-seeded Maria Sharapova had to overcome adversity within herself in Round 1 Monday, battling through illness to win in straight sets. A similar feat may be asked of No. 1 Serena Williams Tuesday.
On the surface, there's no reason at all to believe Andrea Hlavackova will muster up much of a test for the world No. 1. We've seen Williams fall flat early in Grand Slams, but it's almost always her own doing more than the play of her opponent.
Williams supporters did have a reason for concern entering Roland Garros with her sporting a nagging elbow injury, but the latest news from the French Open is promising, per WTA:
"The elbow is much, much better" More from @SerenaWilliams entering @RolandGarros--> http://t.co/DVxXVO0N5q #RG15 http://t.co/sR88TjA8UL5/24/2015, 6:42:02 PM
Unfamiliarity can breed contempt for top stars in tennis, but that won't be the case for Williams Tuesday. Not only did she beat Hlavackova convincingly in their first meeting, but it came on the Grand Slam stage at the 2012 U.S. Open.
Williams has been slowly getting to the form she needs to be at in order to trump the field, while Hlavackova has had to battle through three tough qualifiers just to get to the main draw. The top-seeded American won't show any mercy as she gets past Round 1 rather quickly and simply.
Prediction: Williams wins in straight sets
No. 6 Rafael Nadal vs. Quentin Halys
He's a nine-time champion at Roland Garros and the winner of the last five tournaments there, but Rafael Nadal has given everyone around the sport plenty of reason to doubt his chances of getting No. 10 in the coming weeks. Those chances will be put into further focus in Round 1.
The matchup is one that the No. 6 seed would typically be able to overcome without any sort of issue. He faces Quentin Halys, an 18-year-old French phenom who is playing in his first Grand Slam tournament not of the junior variety.
Add that to Nadal's stunning record of success at the French Open, and it continues to point in the Spaniard's favor:
9-time! Nadal is the king of Roland Garros with a 66-1 record; what will it take to beat him? #RG15 #GameChangersIBM http://t.co/nShcxtlK7H5/25/2015, 10:07:27 AM
With that said, matchups like these have proved to be more difficult than expected for Nadal over recent years as he battles through various injuries and struggles with his form. While Roland Garros has been an exception, Nadal usually gives the indication very early on whether he'll be contending late in a Grand Slam or going home rather early.
Tuesday's opener may not be that telling as Nadal goes up against a fresh newcomer. His career quality at Roland Garros should bubble to the surface, although some signs of rust should be expected as Nadal cruises his way to a straight-set win.
Prediction: Nadal wins in straight sets