It should be an entertaining first day at the 2023 French Open with 20 first-round matches on the schedule in Paris. As always, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the slate, including Maria Sakkari vs Karolina Muchova, Jessica Pegula vs Danielle Collins, Aryna Sabalenka vs Marta Kostyuk and Daria Kasatkina vs Jule Niemeier. But who will book their place in the round of 64?
French Open Day 1 Predictions
Magda Linette vs Leylah Fernandez
Jim: It is sometimes hard to remember that Leylah Fernandez is still just 20. So whilst she has struggled since reaching the US Open final back in 2021, she very much has time on her side. She also, it should not be forgotten, reached the last eight in Paris last year. This will be a tough test, but if Fernandez plays her best tennis, or something close to it, it is one she should be able to pass.
Prediction: Fernandez in 3
Damian: This looks really open with Linette’s seeding being mostly thanks to her Australian Open run, while Fernandez is definitely struggling right now. Both are capable of going deep in this event, but just aren’t exactly in their best shape at the moment, not at all. The Pole has probably been a touch more convincing.
Prediction: Linette in 3
Andreas: While an exciting match on paper, Fernandez has been far from her best in recent months. The Canadian took wildcards into a past ITF event and Rabat, and suffered disappointing losses in both events. Linette, near her career high ranking, should win this comfortably.
Prediction: Linette in 2
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Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Clara Tauson
Jim: Clara Tauson is still searching for a breakthrough run at a big tournament with injuries affecting her progress. But, like Fernandez, she is still only 20 and has plenty of time to get back on track. This might not be the tournament to kickstart that progress however.
Prediction: Sasnovich in 2
Damian: It’s easy to forget how much of a prospect Tauson was supposed to be before her injuries, but hopefully she’s back on the right track now. Aliaksandra Sasnovich is habitually underrated and can present a threat to anyone on her day. That hasn’t happened much for her in 2023 though and Tauson’s momentum from the qualifying will be an asset.
Prediction: Tauson in 3
Andreas: Hailed as a potential top star, Tauson is back after dealing with a plethora of injuries in 2021 and 2022. Her final qualifying match was a difficult challenge, pulling through in a nearly three hour match. Meanwhile, Sasnovich surprisingly lost early as the top seed in a WTA 125K. Look for the Dane to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Tauson in 2
Leolia Jeanjean vs Kimberly Birrell
Jim: This is a real opportunity for Leolia Jeanjean to reach the second round at her home Slam. Kimberly Birrell is a solid enough player, but clay is not her preferred surface and she is not going to hit Jeanjean off the court. If the Frenchwoman can feed off the crowd’s support, expect her to have the edge here.
Prediction: Jeanjean in 3
Damian: Jeanjean had a great run in Paris last year, making the third round and taking out Karolina Pliskova. Repeating that would be a surprise again, but this is definitely a nice draw for her. Birrell has limited clay-court experience and hasn’t exactly been doing that well in the matches she actually played on the surface (sub-50% winrate across all levels).
Prediction: Jeanjean in 2
Andreas: This is Birrell’s first Grand Slam main-draw match away from the Australian Open, and could be a challenging occasion against the home favorite. Jeanjean defeated Karolina Pliskova in last year’s French Open, and comes into the tournament with lots of confidence.
Prediction: Jeanjean in 3(FanDuel)
Liudmila Samsonova vs Katie Volynets
Jim: Liudmila Samsonova prefers faster courts than those at Roland Garros, but this is still a match she should be winning. Katie Volynets has scored some impressive wins on the clay recently, but if Samsonova can bring her power to bear she should be able to overwhelm the American.
Prediction: Samsonova in 2
Damian: Samsonova is yet to win a match at the French Open in four attempts, three of them in the main draw. The Russian is definitely a loose cannon, but her powerful game can overwhelm opponents even on these courts. Doesn’t seem like Volynets could do much if Samsonova finds her range.
Prediction: Samsonova in 2
Andreas: Samsonova has had a solid year, but hasn’t been able to string together a lot of wins this clay season. On the other hand, Volynets has picked up some decent wins, but all of the wins came at WTA 125K level. This match could be closer than it seems at first glance and could potentially be an upset.
Prediction: Samsonova in 3
Main photo credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports