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Roland Garros 2019 Day 4 Preview: Nishikori, Dimitrov and Bertens on Deck

There are close shaves, and then there are close shaves – Naomi Osaka had one of the latter on Tuesday.

Bageled in the first set, twice having to break in the second with Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova serving for the match, Osaka came within a whisker of being the victim in one of the most stunning upsets in Roland Garros history.

Thankfully for her, she managed to regroup, not just making it through to the second round, but also saving herself from the inevitable questions that would’ve followed about her preparation, hand injury, and yes, her split with Sascha Bajin.

Funnily enough, this marks the second year in a row the women’s number one seed stumbled out of the gates in Paris – Simona Halep dropped her first set of the tournament 6-2 to Alison Riske before bouncing back 6-1, 6-1 – and considering Halep went on to win the title, well… maybe it will end up being a good thing! I guess we’ll soon find out.

Here’s your three to see on day four in Paris:

Kei Nishikori (JPN) [7] v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – Second on Philippe Chartier

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Jo-Willy Tsonga in the second-round at Roland Garros – he didn’t play last year after knee surgery, and he was bounced in his first match in 2017 – but here in 2019, he’s back, with a tasty contest on deck against Kei Nishikori. Considering his seeding and 5-3 head-to-head advantage, there’s no denying Nishikori comes into this one the favourite, but even in his diminished state, Tsonga can take solace in the fact he’s won their one-and-only contest on clay – a 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 rollercoaster here in 2015 – and with the crowd behind him, he definitely has a shot to do it again. Indeed, if Tsonga serves well and starts crushing the ball early, the upset will be on, but in any case, watching the Frenchman crunch forehands while Nishikori does the same with backhands seems like a pretty good way to spend a few hours.

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) v Marin Cilic (CRO) [11] – Third on Simonne Mathieu

If Grigor Dimitrov wants to regain his mojo here at the French Open, he’s going to have to do a lot better than his sloppy first-round performance over Janko Tipsarevic, and yet with Marin Cilic on deck, he doesn’t have much time to find a higher gear. Historically more of a fast-court player, Cilic has made back-to-back quarters here in Paris, and will get an extra boost from his 4-1 advantage (all on hard) in the head-to-head over Dimitrov, making him a strong favourite – and yet, this is Grigor Dimitrov we’re talking about. If the Bulgarian does manage to step it up, the clay should help him put Cilic on the back foot with his spin and depth, and that should make this a truly fascinating encounter.

Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) v Kiki Bertens (NED) [4] – Fourth on Philippe Chatrier

One of the favourites to win here in Paris, if Kiki Bertens is to be taken seriously as a contender, she’ll first have to come through this potentially tricky encounter with Viktoria Kuzmova. Already this year the two have played two three-setters, Kuzmova taking the first in Dubai before Bertens returned the favour in Miami, so there’s every reason to expect another close contest here. That said, this also provides an opportunity for Bertens to make a statement, which she would definitely be doing if she came through in straights.