FOR FRENCH OPEN CHALLENGE
Ashley Marshall | May 26, 2017
Team USA's assault on the trademark red European clay of Paris gets underway on Sunday when America's top stars begin their bid for a French Open crown.
The draw ceremony for the second Grand Slam of the year took place in the French capital on Friday and created plenty of intriguing possible matchups.
Top American man Jack Sock could face nine-time winner Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, while Venus Williams, the No. 1 U.S. woman in the draw, may meet defending Roland Garros champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the quarterfinals in a rematch of the Rome quarterfinal earlier this month (won by Muguruza).
The four U.S. women's seeds are tied with Russia for the most in the draw, while the four seeds on the men's side ranks one behind France and Spain, which have five apiece.
In the men's draw, Sock starts against Jiri Vesely, and would face the winner of American Ryan Harrison or Aljaz Bedene in Round 2. ADVERTISEMENT Sock's third-round opponent could be No. 17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, while a marquee matchup could be on the cards in the round of 16 where king of clay Nadal is a probable opponent.
No. 21 seed John Isner, coming off a semifinal run at the Masters 1000 event in Rome, will open his campaign against Aussie Jordan Thompson and could face 13th-seeded Tomas Berdych in the third round. Isner is the only American in the top quarter of the draw, which features three-time Slam winner and No. 1 seed Andy Murray.
Among other notable matches featuring Americans in the top quarter of the men's draw is No. 27 seed Sam Querrey's first-round match against Hyeon Chung, and, should Querrey win that, possibly an all-American matchup with Chung's fellow rising star Ernesto Escobedo, who opens against Denis Istomin.
Also in the second quarter of the draw, up-and-coming Frances Tiafoe is drawn against No. 28 seed Fabio Fognini in what promises to be one of the most entertaining opening-round matchups in the men's draw. Tiafoe could face another Italian clay-court specialist in Andreas Seppi in the second round, while No. 3 seed and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka is a likely third-round opponent. Donald Young also starts his French Open against No. 30 seed and former French Open finalist David Ferrer.
Steve Johnson, seeded 25th, is in the bottom half of the draw. Johnson, who won a clay-court title in Houston in April, starts against Yuichi Sugita and could play No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem in Round 3.
On the women's side, No. 10 seed Venus Williams was placed in the second quarter of the draw. She'll open against Qiang Wang and could face 15-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, who won the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, in Round 2. Dominika Cibulkova, the No. 6 seed, is a potential fourth-round opponent for the 2002 French Open finalist.
In the bottom half of the draw, No. 12 seed Madison Keys will face Ashleigh Barty in the first round and potentially No. 17 Anastasija Sevastova in Round 3.
The bottom quarter of the draw, headlined by second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, is the only one to feature two American seeds. No. 19 CoCo Vandeweghe plays Magdalena Rybarikova, while No. 25 Lauren Davis starts against Carina Witthoeft.
There were tough first-round draws for four Americans, who draw a quartet of Top 20 seeds. Julie Boserup is pitted against No. 15 seed Petra Kvitova, who is returning from injury following a knife attack in her home over the winter, and Christina McHale is against No. 8 seed Svetlana Kutnetsova. Jennifer Brady will face No. 13 seed and home-country favorite Kristina Mladenovic, while Alison Riske is matched up against No. 20 Barbora Strycova.
World No. 138 Bjorn Fratangelo advanced to the main draw of the French Open on Friday after rallying to beat Gerald Melzer, 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, in the final round of qualifying. The Pennsylvania native and former French Open junior champion reached the second round in Paris last year and has now competed in the main draw of the previous seven majors. He has a 50-50 chance of facing either Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro, Richard Gasquet or Pablo Cuevas.
In the women's qualifying draw, Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Zarina Diyas, 6-4, 6-1, to move into the main draw. Mattek-Sands matched her best career singles finish with a run to the French Open fourth round in 2013. In 2015, she won the doubles title in Paris with Lucie Safarova.
U.S. men's first-round matches
John Isner (21) vs. Jordan Thompson
Jared Donaldson vs. Pierre-Hughes Herbert
Sam Querrey (27) vs. Hyeon Chung
Ernesto Escobedo vs. Denis Istomin
Frances Tiafoe vs. Fabio Fognini (28)
Donald Young vs. David Ferrer (30)
Jack Sock (14) vs. Jiri Vesely
Ryan Harrison vs. Aljaz Bedene
Tennys Sandgren vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Steve Johnson (25) vs. Yuichi Sugita
U.S. women's first-round matches
Louisa Chirico vs. Jelena Ostapenko
Julie Boserup vs. Petra Kvitova (15)
CiCi Bellis vs. Qualifier
Christina McHale vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (8)
Shelby Rogers vs. Marina Erakovic
Jennifer Brady vs. Kristina Mladenovic (13)
Venus Williams (10) vs. Qiang Wang
Amanda Anisimova vs. Kurumi Nara
Madison Brengle vs. Julia Goerges
Madison Keys (12) vs. Ashleigh Barty
Taylor Townsend vs. Qualifier
Alison Riske vs. Barbora Strycova (20)
CoCo Vandeweghe (19) vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Lauren Davis (25) vs. Carina Witthoeft