French Open 2012: Top Six Breakout Performers to Put on Your Radar

Stephen Sheehan@@StephenPSheehanCorrespondent IMay 29, 2012

French Open 2012: Top Six Breakout Performers to Put on Your Radar

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    Everyone loves an underdog story, and with several big first-round upsets, the French Open could have some surprising names at the top of the list. 

    The American women have gotten off to a great start with some impressive showings despite some tough matchups. 

    In the men's circuit, one of France's players captured a big upset of his own against one of America's notable stars. 

    Let's take a look at the possible breakout performers at the French Open. 

Nicolas Mahut (France)

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    The quickest way to make a name for yourself in any sport is to take down a star.

    While it's questionable whether Andy Roddick is still considered a top-flight player, it can't hurt to take down one of the most recognizable American tennis players.

    Mahut, the 89th-ranked singles player, scored an upset over the tournament's No. 26 seed in four rounds, raising questions about whether Roddick's best days are behind him.

    It was a big and rare win for Mahut, who entered the first round with only a single match victory in his French Open career. 

Michael Berrer (Germany)

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    After blazing through three qualifying matches, the 6'4" German pulled a monstrous defeat of the 30th-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria. Despite some up and down moments, Berrer was consistently the better player in the five-set matchup, advancing to the tournament's second round.

    The talented lefty has gotten off to a hot start and looks poised for a deep tournament run. 

Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine)

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    In a battle of two fellow countrymen, it was the 84th-ranked Stakhovsky who came out on top. The 26-year-old righty pulled off an impressive upset over the younger, talented Alexandr Dolgopolov, the tournament's 16th seed.

    Although he's not as regarded as Dolgopolov, earning a victory against a top-20 player could go a long way to boosting Stakhovsky's confidence when he plays in Round 2. 

Irina Falconi (USA)

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    At 22 years old, Falconi is one of the tournament's youngest competitors. Despite her relative inexperience, the 114th-ranked singles player pulled an upset over her Atlanta neighbor Edina Gallovits-Hall.

    While the three-set victory was certainly no joke, it's Falconi's second-round matchup that could prove to be her breakout performance. She will face the sixth-seeded Stosur, who she lost to earlier this year.

    With a win against Stosur, Falconi could make a huge leap in the rankings. 

Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA)

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    Although she's regarded as a better doubles player, Mattek-Sands showed she's quite capable of playing on her own. The veteran made the third round of last year's French Open, and with her performance against Sabine Lisicki, she's on a quest to outdo her 2011 performance.

    Mattek-Sands, who's only ranked 171st as a singles player, easily defeated the tournament's 12th seed in two sets. 

Sofia Arvidsson (Sweden)

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    A 13-year pro, Arvidsson is no stranger to French Open action. However, she may have secured her most impressive victory by upsetting Italy's Roberta Vinci, the 17th seed, in Round 1. Vinci is one of the top players in the world, as she's ranked 19th in singles and ninth in doubles.

    Arvidsson ground out a three-set victory and looks poised to make a run. 

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