French Open 2011: What to Watch for on Tuesday at the French Open

Dimitri KayCorrespondent IMay 23, 2011

ROME, ITALY - MAY 14:  Rafael Nadal of Spain  plays a forehand during his semi final match against Richard Gasquet of France during day seven of the Internazoinali BNL D'Italia at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre  on May 14, 2011 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Court Philippe Chatrier

First Round – Rafael Nadal [1] vs. John Isner

Over the years, many have tried to stop the charging bull from rampaging before him, but only few have succeeded.

Isner has had some decent results on clay, including a third round showing at Roland Garros last year. However, the Spaniard has never lost a first round encounter at Grand Slam level and it is highly unlikely he will lose this one.

Nadal will have to be in full concentration in order to take advantage of the few opportunities that Isner provides during his service games. Keep the points short and Isner will apply pressure on Nadal, get into rallies and it is highly probable that the American will fold. Although Isner may be considered a power baseliner, he cannot match Nadal on consistency.

During the opening stages of the match, the Mallorca native will be eager to get into a rhythm as quickly as possible—a rhythm that Isner does not provide. As soon as that gets going, it should end up being a straight sets victory for Nadal.

Footnote: Nadal has chosen yet again to play on the third day of play. Will this come back to haunt him in the later rounds?

Court Suzanne Lenglen

First Round – Kim Clijsters [2] vs. Anastasiya Yakimova

Adding to the fact that Clijsters has just come off a long injury and her thigh will be “heavily strapped,” the Belgian has not played a competitive match on clay this year.

The Belgian will be lucky that her 24-year-old opponent is a qualifier ranked 100, and that her best appearance at Grand Slam level only brought her to the third round (the Australian Open in 2007).

Even if Clijsters may be rusty and cautious (not wanting to aggravate whatever injury she is carrying), the gulf in their respective rankings should point to why the reigning US and Australian Open champion should win this match.

Court 2

First Round – Fernando Verdasco [16] vs. Juan Monaco

Considering Verdasco’s recent woes, this match could end up being an upset. Since the Spaniard changed his racquet for the millionth time, his results have been awful (considering how well he played last year).

Coming into the French Open, his clay results have not been all encouraging. Apart from reaching and losing the final in Estroil, the Spaniard has had second round losses at both the Monte Carlo and Madrid Masters, after having a first-round bye.

Although Juan Monaco has won only 13 matches this year, the Argentinean has a knack for causing some trouble to the top players. Last year in the semis of Shanghai, he took Murray to three sets while playing some inspired tennis. So if Monaco comes to the courts motivated and enthused, he could cause an upset.

Nevertheless, Verdasco has reached the fourth round in the past four years here and will want to get his year back on track with a strong performance. When the Spaniard’s flat, bullet of a forehand is on song, he is one of the most fun players to watch. On the other hand, when it is not working it becomes a very hard shot to look at.

Court 6

First Round – Alexandr Dolgopolov [21] vs. Rainer Schuettler

It is a shame they have placed Dolgopolov on Court 6, nevertheless the Ukrainian is always a pleasure to watch. His opponent, a former Wimbledon semifinalist and former world No. 5, is past his best and also had to qualify for the main draw.

However, the match should be an exciting one. The German will bring with him some old school serve and volley play, while the 21st seed will create new ways to pass an opponent at the net. With the Ukrainian's super fast service motion and crazy spins he can apply to the ball, it will be hard for the 35-year-old to keep up.

Dolgopolov reached the third round last year and with his new found confidence and hugely entertaining, unorthodox game, he could have a chance of going even further this year.