French Open Men’s Singles Watchability Power Rankings, Sunday Edition

Emil Ruusuvuori in action ahead of the French Open.

Following a pandemic-induced move to the fall last season, French Open is back to its usual spring slot. It’s been an intense few days leading up to the main event of the clay season, with Naomi Osaka deciding to skip press duties and French Tennis Federation unveiling a statue of 13-time champion Rafael Nadal whilst still active. But let’s turn our focus to what may happen on the court for the next two weeks.

Instead of the typical composite piece, this year’s men’s singles first-round watchability power rankings will be split in three shorter articles. Remember, we aren’t looking at the best matches of the day, but at the encounters that have potential to be fun for a legitimate reason or due to an obscure subplot.

Clay should be abolished immediately

Emil Ruusuvuori vs Mackenzie McDonald

He may not be as vocal about it as Daniil Medvedev or Nick Kyrgios, but Ruusuvuori is not a fan of red dirt. The Finn hasn’t won a match at any level since early August 2019, when he squandered two championship points at the Augsburg Challenger against former USC Trojan Yannick Hanfmann. Ruusuvuori is 0-6 on the surface ever since that painful 2-6 6-4 7-5 loss. Across the net will be McDonald, another former college tennis star at UCLA, coached by a Spaniard (Jaime Pulgar) and really battle tested after going through a tough section of the qualifying draw. What could go wrong for Ruusuvuori?

Watchability Index: 7/10

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How about some pressure?

Alexander Zverev vs Oscar Otte

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Jeremy Chardy

All members of the Big three got placed in the upper half, Medvedev is far from a behemoth on clay, Dominic Thiem has been struggling recently and Casper Ruud has yet to prove it on the big stage. All eyes are on Zverev and Tsitsipas to reach their maiden final at Roland Garros. While Zverev is not as prone to upsets as he used to be during first week of Majors, the way he handles Otte should be indicative of where he stands mentally. Ditto for Tsitsipas, who was dealt a trickier opponent in the veteran Chardy. In other news, it seems hard to believe it’s been 13 years since Chardy’s memorable upset of David Nalbandian at the French Open. Smart people need to figure out a way to halt time.

Watchability Index: 6/10

Implosion alert activated

Karen Khachanov vs Jiri Vesely

Khachanov has been as reliable at Roland Garros as a Rolex watch. Since 2017, the Russian has reached one quarterfinal and three rounds of 16 at the Bois de Boulogne. Nevertheless, he’s going through a massive identity crisis on court. Watching him play these past few tournaments, it’s hard to fathom Khachanov beat Novak Djokovic in a Masters 1000 final not even three years ago. His 6-1 6-1 loss at the hands of the pesky Cam Norrie in Lyon was probably rock bottom for Khachanov. His pedigree as a practice partner remains quite high though, as he was hitting with Nadal this week. On Sunday he’ll face another lefty in Vesely, whom he defeated in four close sets last year. Not a cakewalk by any means.

Watchability Index: 8/10

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Sinking moleship

Juan Ignacio Londero vs Cristian Garin

Alarms have been going off for a while for El Topo Londero. Since the tour’s resumption last August, his win-loss record stands at a calamitous 4-19 with two of those victories coming in qualifying draws. An unexpected French Open run might be the last chance he has to latch on to the Top 100. Garin has not had the most consistent clay campaign but, on paper, is one of the strongest candidates to emerge out of Medvedev’s section of the draw. The Chilean leads Londero 5-3 in their head to head, including futures, challengers and qualies. It should be interesting to see how the 2013 junior champion copes with expectations.

Watchability Index: 8/10

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