2013 French Open, Day 2 preview: Berdych-Monfils highlights a day full of landmines

Clive Brunskill

Styles make fights, the seeded player isn't always the favorite and Nadal's path of complete destruction begins.

The first full day of French Open action is underway in Paris. For those waking up this Memorial Day Monday and flipping to ESPN2, here are some of the more interesting, notable matches of the day.

Matches to Watch

Men's 1st Round (Nadal's Region of Complete Destruction): Rafael Nadal [3] vs. Daniel Brands (Match 2, Court Philippe Chatrier)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Nadal No. 1 | Brands No. 57

Calling Nadal the overwhelming favorite seems like an understatement. In 100,000 Advanced Baseline simulations, Nadal won the tournament in more than two-thirds of them. The only real interest in this match is how many games Daniel Brands can steal. The 25-year old from Germany is pretty strong on clay, but it almost certainly won't matter on Monday.

Men's 1st Round (Federer Region): Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [6] vs. Aljaz Bedene (Match 2, Court Suzanne Lenglen)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Tsonga No. 16 | Bedene No. 60

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will perhaps never have a better chance to make the final of his home slam. With Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the same side of the bracket, the most competitive match of the tournament could come when they face off in the semifinals. That means that somebody from the other half of the bracket could make the finals without beating one of the two of them. The problem: Tsonga isn't very good on clay. The No. 8 overall player according to AB, he is only No. 16 on clay, the third-best player in the Federer region. Bedene, like Brands, is certainly decent, but Tsonga should get a relatively easy chance to find his form.

Women's 1st Round (Williams Region): Caroline Wozniacki [10] vs. Laura Robson (Match 3, Court Suzanne Langlen)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Wozniacki No. 23 | Robson No. 50

Caroline Wozniacki hasn't reached even the quarterfinals of a slam in more than a year now, and she gets a tough first round test on Court Suzanne Langlen. Laura Robson hasn't found consistency on the clay yet, but in Rome a couple of weeks ago, she started hinting at her potential with a 6-3, 6-2 destruction of Venus Williams. Wozniacki is dealing with some coaching uncertainty at the moment, and she'll need to figure out how to put together a complete effort.

Women's 1st Round (Williams Region): Ekaterina Makarova [22] vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Match 3, Court 6)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Makarova No. 17 | Kuznetsova No. 15

Kuznetsova is maddening. The 2009 French Open champion, she has dealt with injury and extreme inconsistency through the years. She has shown enough recent potential that she actually ranks higher on clay than her seeded opponent; plus, she beat Makarova, 6-4, 6-4, in Miami a couple of months ago. But all the potential in the world didn't stop her from getting destroyed, 6-1, 6-1, by Simona Halep in Rome. Good luck figuring out what she'll bring to the table today.

Men's 1st Round (Djokovic Region): Ryan Harrison vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (Match 3, Court 10)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Harrison No. 124 | Kuznetsov No. 62

Ryan Harrison is still only 21 years old, but the Shreveport resident has yet to make any serious noise on the tour. His slam draws have been unlucky over the last couple of years, but his play hasn't necessarily been up to par, either. He has lost seven of eight ATP matches since the Australian Open, and while he did qualify for the French, he faces a pretty tough early test. Time to start breaking through, Ryan.

Men's 1st Round (Ferrer Region): Tomas Berdych [5] vs. Gael Monfils (Match 3, Court Philippe Chatrier)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Berdych No. 6 | Monfils No. 12

Styles make fights, and these two could put on a hell of a show on centre court. Berdych is one of the best -- perhaps the best -- pure power hitters on tour, and Monfils is an artistic scrambler. Monfils is basically Andy Murray with ADD, a steady defender with a couple of screws loose. My line about him has always been that watching him is like watching your younger brother. His game is so easy to root for, but his decision-making often makes you just start saying, "No, Gael, no, no no." The odds are good that Berdych cruises here -- he did win, 6-1, 6-1, last year in Madrid, though 2012 was not a good year for Monfils' physical condition -- but you'll want to watch, just in case.

Men's 1st Round (Nadal's Region of Complete Destruction): Jerzy Janowicz [21] vs. Albert Ramos (Match 4, Court 6)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Janowicz No. 28 | Ramos No. 22

Thanks to strong performances at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, plus a quarterfinal appearance at Rome, Janowicz's ATP ranking has exceeded his pure, tournament-to-tournament abilities at this point. He faces a rugged first round match against a player who actually grades out better than him on clay and beat him in three sets a few weeks ago in Barcelona. It's rare to say that a seeded player winning a first-round match would be an upset, but here we are. At the very least, this match is a tossup.

Women's 1st Round (Sharapova Region): Sloane Stephens [17] vs. Karin Knapp (Match 5, Court 7)

Advanced Baseline Clay Rankings: Stephens No. 38 | Knapp No. 49

If you only really pay attention to tennis during the slams, you probably have the wrong impression of Sloane Stephens right about now. She capped a wonderful year of slam performances (fourth round at the French, third at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) with a semifinal breakthrough at the Australian Open, taking out Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Since then, however? Yikes. Second-round loss in Qatar, first round in Dubai, second in Indian Wells, fourth in Miami, second in Charleston, first in Madrid. She has rallied of late, making the third round (and getting whipped by Maria Sharapova) in Rome and the quarterfinals in Brussels, but her form has still left something to be desired. Still, another quality week or two in a slam, and those struggles will be mostly forgotten. She should beat Karin Knapp today, but the two are close enough on clay to make this almost a tossup.

Balance of Power

With each daily preview, we'll take a look at the top-ranked (according to AB clay rankings) remaining members of each region of the draw. The seeds don't really mesh too well with clay-court competence.

Men's Draw

Djokovic Region
2. Novak Djokovic [1]
14. Tommy Haas [12]
17. Alexandr Dolgopolov [22]
25. Pablo Andujar
26. Philipp Kohlschreiber [16]
27. Janko Tipsarevic [8]
31. Fernando Verdasco
37. Grigor Dimitrov [26]

Djokovic hasn't looked great of late, but he is virtually the only elite clay-court player in his region. It will be interesting to see how 35-year old Haas handles best-of-five-sets matches.

Nadal Region of Complete Destruction
1. Rafael Nadal [3]
7. Stan Wawrinka [9]
10. Richard Gasquet [7]
15. Benoit Paire [24]
18. Kei Nishikori [13]
21. Fabio Fognini [27]
22. Albert Ramos
28. Jerzy Janowicz [21]

Nadal was done no favors with a loaded draw, but it won't matter.

Ferrer Region
3. David Ferrer [4] -- advanced to second round
6. Tomas Berdych [5]
8. Nicolas Almagro [11]
12. Gael Monfils
13. Tommy Robredo [32]
23. Ernests Gulbis
24. Kevin Anderson [23] -- advanced to second round
30. Albert Montanes

This is perhaps the most intriguing region of the men's tournament. Ferrer is fantastic on clay, but he only looked decent in his first-round win on Sunday. Meanwhile, Berdych's draw -- Monfils in the first round, potentially Gulbis in the second and Robredo in the third -- is just cruel.

Federer Region
4. Roger Federer [2] -- advanced to second round
11. Juan Monaco [17]
16. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [6]
20. Marin Cilic [10]
29. Jarkko Nieminen
33. Gilles Simon [15] -- advanced to second round
36. Jeremy Chardy [25] -- advanced to second round
43. Daniel Gimeno-Traver

If Djokovic's draw isn't the easiest, Federer's is. As iffy as Fed's form has been in 2013, his path to the finals here is pretty clear.

Women's Draw

Williams Region
1. Serena Williams [1] -- advanced to second round
10. Angelique Kerber [8]
15. Svetlana Kuznetsova
17. Ekaterina Makarova [22]
21. Roberta Vinci [15]
23. Caroline Wozniacki [10]
27. Romina Oprandi
28. Varvara Lepchenko [29]

Good luck, Everybody Not Named Serena.

Radwanska Region
4. Sara Errani [5] -- advanced to second round
7. Agnieszka Radwanska [4] -- advanced to second round
9. Ana Ivanovic [14] -- advanced to second round
11. Simona Halep
12. Venus Williams [30] -- lost in first round to Urszula Radwanska
16. Carla Suarez Navarro [20]
22. Nadia Petrova [11] -- lost in first round to Monica Puig
25. Sabine Lisicki [32] -- advanced to second round
29. Julia Goerges [24]
31. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor

The Radwanska Region got shaken up quite a bit on Sunday when both Williams and Petrova lost. The top four in the region are now pretty clear: fourth-round matches of Radwanska-Ivanovic and Errani-Halep could be fantastic.

Azarenka Region
3. Victoria Azarenka [3]
6. Na Li [6] -- advanced to second round
8. Kaia Kanepi
14. Maria Kirilenko [12]
24. Yaroslava Shvedova [27]
30. Flavia Pennetta
32. Alize Cornet [31]
33. Anabel Medina Garrigues -- lost in first round to Na Li
35. Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Like Nadal and Ferrer on the men's side, Azarenka was done no favors here. And her clay form has not been amazing in 2013.

Sharapova Region
2. Maria Sharapova [2]
5. Sam Stosur [9]
13. Petra Kvitova [7]
18. Jelena Jankovic [18]
19. Dominika Cibulkova [16]
20. Lucie Safarova [25]
34. Jamie Hampton
37. Shuai Peng

It would be a bit of a disappointment if we don't get a Sharapova-Stosur bloodbath in the quarterfinals.

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