Monfils and Brown Headline French Open Watchability Power Rankings

The second Grand Slam of the season is upon us. Despite the absences of Serena Williams and Roger Federer, we should be in for an exciting fortnight.

Sure, exciting is a vague adjective. Certain people relish watching 50-shot rallies down the middle between Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon. Others prefer witnessing a slugfest between John Isner and Reilly Opelka.

For the record, I would not sign up for any of the aforementioned ordeals.

There are plenty of dull, unappetizing matchups in the first round of the Roland Garros men’s singles draw. Fortunately, the following duels have the potential to be incredibly entertaining for one reason or another.

Again, I will not necessarily be considering the quality of play, but the ability of the players to own tennis Twitter. Buckle up!

S’il vou plait, can anybody call an ambulance?

Thanasi Kokkinakis vs (8) Kei Nishikori

I’m no betting market expert, but I guarantee some evil bookie has an over/under on broken bones in this match. What if both players break down exactly during the same point? Who gets the 45 ATP points? Kokkinakis can’t stay healthy for over a minute but Nishikori doesn’t lag too far behind. In spite of his inability to remain unscathed, the Japanese took the atrocious decision of playing an ATP 250 tournament the week before a Slam. What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, I hope I’m mistaken and these guys deliver a masterpiece.

Watchability Index: 5/10

Overhyped, it can’t be that good

Frances Tiafoe vs (28) Fabio Fognini

The young American should be easy prey for the in-form Fognini at the Bois de Boulogne. However, that prediction doesn’t account for the plot twist. The Italian will cruise to a two-set lead, so the 19-year-old will head to a bathroom break. “It can’t be that good,” Tiafoe screams from the locker room. All of the sudden, the momentum somehow changes and Fognini squanders another opportunity to do damage at a Slam.

Watchability Index: 6/10

Battle for African GOAT

Kevin Anderson vs Malek Jaziri

North Africa vs South Africa. Stark contract of playing style. Current No. 62 vs No. 70. The previous match ended in a third set tiebreaker. #Popcorn

Watchability Index: 5/10

Expect the unexpected

Ernests Gulbis vs (7) Marin Cilic

In this bout between two wildly inconsistent talents of the 1988 generation, nothing is guaranteed. If the No. 225 Gulbis  pulls it off, would that be considered an upset? Cilic’s 2005 boys French Open title aside, the Latvian has obtained the better career results on clay, highlighted by the 2014 semifinal run at Roland Garros. The Croatian recently won the Istanbul trophy, but lost in the opener last year against Argentinian journeyman Marco Trungelliti. Gulbis defends a round of 16 in Paris, but he has only won one ATP match this year. For what it’s worth, they have split their two tour-level meetings on the red dirt.

Watchability Index: 7/10

Broken rackets galore

Taro Daniel vs Jerzy Janowicz

The Japanese is literally a wall. If the Polish shot-maker is unable to overwhelm him, I could foresee Janowicz going bananas. The umpire better watch out for the integrity of his tablet.

Watchability Index: 8/10

Andrey Rublev vs Diego Schwartzman

Speaking of Daniel, he overcame a break deficit against the hard-hitting Rublev in the final round of qualifying. The former junior French Open champion entered the draw as a lucky loser and was awarded with yet another grinder in ‘El Peque’ Schwartzman. What a nightmare scenario. I feel sorry for the frames.

Watchability Index: 7/10

Clear your schedule no matter what, fellas

(6) Dominic Thiem vs Bernard Tomic

Forget what the laws of probability state. The odds of Tomic upsetting Thiem are slimmer than the odds of the Cleveland Browns winning next year’s Super Bowl. The Australian has probably booked a flight out of Charles de Gaul airport already. This match should be a formality. The Austrian will advance to the second round, and Bernie will get a succulent check for showing up. Everyone’s happy. Hopefully the Aussie delights us fans with another return with the handle of the racket. What a legend.

Watchability Index: 9/10

Benoit Paire vs (4) Rafael Nadal

Let’s face it: Paire won’t pose a threat to the nine-time Roland Garros champion. Nevertheless, with the full Philippe Chatrier stadium backing him, in front of all the cameras, the French will surely put together a magnificent compilation of both hot shots and meltdowns.

Watchability Index: 9/10

Debut of a highly-touted prospect

Robin Haase vs Alex de Minaur

The young Aussie’s forehand grip is a burden on clay. The entertainment in this match comes down to whether the volatile Dutch decides to incur a hindrance penalty again. It’s been a year since this happened and I can’t stop watching it.

Watchability Index: 6/10

(23) Ivo Karlovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

With Federer not in town and Grigor Dimitrov already 26, the BabyFed honorary title now falls on Tsitsipas’ shoulders. Unfortunately, a matchup against Doctor Ivo isn’t the most enticing Grand Slam debut, even on clay. Still, the Greek phenomenon boasts such a smooth game that fans should not miss.

Watchability Index: 6/10

Silence, circus at work!

Dustin Brown vs (15) Gael Monfils

Please, somebody start a petition on to relocate this match to either the Stade de France or the Parc des Princes. Enough said.

Watchability Index: 10/10

Enjoy what you read? Make sure to take a look at our complete 2017 French Open coverage for other great content similar to this.

Main Photo: