2020 French Open: What to Watch on Saturday

How to watch: 5 a.m. to noon on Tennis Channel; streaming on the Tennis Channel app and, starting at 11 a.m., on Peacock.

With the first week of the French Open coming to a close, many top contenders, like Sofia Kenin and Novak Djokovic, can still beat up on lesser opponents. But some matches, by the luck of the draw, look less lopsided on paper.

Here are some matches to keep an eye on.

Because of the number of matches cycling through courts, the times for individual matchups are at best a guess and are certain to fluctuate based on the times at which earlier play is completed. All times are Eastern.

SIMONNE MATHIEU COURT | 5 a.m.

Kevin Anderson vs. Andrey Rublev

Kevin Anderson, a two-time Grand Slam tournament finalist, has had two operations on his right knee within the last year. Anderson, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, has always played a physical, fast-paced game more suited for grass and hardcourts. He is ranked 118th, but even on his least-favored surface, he remains a threat. He beat the No. 22 seed, Dusan Lajovic, in a tight five-set match on Thursday.

Andrey Rublev, the 13th seed, won the German Open on the same day the French Open began. Rublev reached his first major quarterfinal at the United States Open this year behind a string of dynamic performances, including a four-set victory over Matteo Berrettini.

Now, on the slower surface of the French Open, he has not been as dominant, needing five sets to push past Sam Querrey and four sets against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Rublev had been the strong favorite against both.

With Anderson gaining faith that he’s still capable of deep runs at Grand Slam tournaments, this matchup should be tough on the red clay.

Court 14 | 7 a.m.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Ons Jabeur

Aryna Sabalenka, the eighth seed, is an explosive, powerful baseline player. Her ability to hit through the ball seems to be unaffected by clay, a surface that can dull all but the hardest shots. She lost early at the U.S. Open to Victoria Azarenka, an eventual finalist, but she has looked strong in the past few months, hurt mainly by her own inconsistency when powerful shots lead to unforced errors.

Ons Jabeur, the 30th seed, is tidy, nifty and imaginative. Her shotmaking seems to be unbound by traditional strategy, making her a delightful improviser among titanic shot makers. She can still engage in baseline rallies, but she seems to choose not to on a whim. In that sense, she seems molded in the same style as Fabrice Santoro, a clay-court specialist who was known as the Magician.

Sabalenka and Jabeur have not met before, but they are sure to highlight each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

SIMONNE MATHIEU COURT | 10 a.m.

Grigor Dimitrov vs. Roberto Carballés Baena

Through the first two rounds, Grigor Dimitrov, the 18th seed, has shown himself to be cool and composed as he breaks down opponents. But he has not come up against a clay-court specialist yet. Now, in Roberto Carballés Baena, a true challenge has come into his path.

Carballés Baena dispatched Steve Johnson in the first round while dropping only two games and followed that up with a much more impressive victory over the ninth seed, Denis Shapovalov, in five arduous sets. It was his first win in a fifth set and his first win over a top-10 player, and it gave him his first appearance in the third round of a Grand Slam tournament.

While his victory may have given him belief, a five-set match can drain a player’s energy, especially on slow clay courts. If Dimitrov can attack early and secure the first set, it’s hard to know if there will be a road back into the match for Carballés Baena.

SUZANNE LENGLEN COURT | 1 p.m.

Danielle Collins vs Garbiñe Muguruza

Garbiñe Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, has not had the steadiest return to the WTA Tour after the coronavirus break. A second-round loss in the U.S. Open was a clear disappointment, but upon returning to clay, she fared slightly better. She lost in three sets to Simona Halep in the semifinals of the Italian Open but had also needed three sets to beat Coco Gauff and Azarenka earlier in the tournament. After again taking three sets to beat the 88th-ranked Tamara Zidansek in the first round at Roland Garros, it’s unclear whether Muguruza can regain the level of play that got her to the final of the Australian Open in January.

Danielle Collins has similarly struggled to show her best game this year. After a semifinal appearance at the 2019 Australian Open, she has not made it past the third round of a Grand Slam. This is the furthest that Collins has made it at the French Open, but her competition has not been anywhere near the level that she will face on Saturday.

Muguruza will most likely be able to settle in and move the American around the court well, dominating for long stretches of the match. It will be a test for her to see if she can contend later.

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