British trio in action at French Open
Andy Murray, Heather Watson and Elena Baltacha will return to the Paris clay today hoping to continue the form that has seen them condemn a number of unwanted statistics to the bin.
Murray, of course, would be expected to negotiate the early rounds of the French Open but the success of Baltacha and Watson in particular has provided British tennis with a much-needed boost.
Not since John Lloyd, Jo Durie and Anne Hobbs in 1984 have three British players made the second round at Roland Garros, and all of the trio have at least a chance of going further.
Fourth seed Murray should beat qualifier Simone Bolelli but the Italian is no mug, particularly on clay, while Baltacha is ranked higher than American opponent Vania King.
Watson looks to have the toughest task against 16th seed Kaia Kanepi, but the 19-year-old is in a confident mood after coming through qualifying and then winning her first match in the main draw of a grand slam against Stephanie Foretz Gacon on Monday.
The Guernsey player said: "I'm very optimistic. I've been playing well, I came through qualifying and I'm feeling confident with the wins. I believe in myself, which is the most important thing.
"It's great to put myself in the position to play against these top players and know where I have to be. Just as long as I keep giving myself these opportunities, I'll keep improving and become more experienced and learn a lot more."
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki and Francesca Schiavone all won in straight sets yesterday but there was late drama when third seed Vera Zvonareva came back from match point down to defeat Sabine Lisicki, who was carried from the court on a stretcher.
World number two Djokovic benefited from the retirement of opponent Victor Hanescu in the third set, and that saved energy could well come in handy for his blockbuster clash against Juan Martin Del Potro next up.
The Argentinian's wrist problems last year dropped him way down the rankings and, although he has now returned to the top 30, that has left him as a very dangerous opponent early in the tournament for form player Djokovic.
The Serbian, who made it 41 consecutive victories yesterday, said: "It's going to be a great match, a battle. He has always had the quality to be at the top of the men's game. It's going to be a big challenge for both of us."
Del Potro, who is still not completely over a hip problem picked up earlier this month, is hoping to give his friend and rival a stern test.
He said: "It's a special match. He's trying to make a record here and to be number one and I want to be ready for the fight."
Rafael Nadal returns to action tomorrow hoping for an easier time against fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar than he was given in his dramatic first-round clash with John Isner while Kim Clijsters takes on Arantxa Rus in the women's draw.
Order of play for Thursday May 26th 2011 (All times local, + 1 hour from BST):
Phillipe Chatrier: 11:00: Arantxa Rus (Ned) v (2) Kim Clijsters (Bel), (4) Andy Murray (Gbr) v Simone Bolelli (Ita), (7) Maria Sharapova (Rus) v Caroline Garcia (Fra), Jeremy Chardy (Fra) v (18) Gilles Simon (Fra)
Suzanne Lenglen: 11:00: Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Spa) v (5) Robin Soderling (Swe), (6) Na Li (Chn) v Silvia Soler Espinosa (Spa), (1) Rafael Nadal (Spa) v Pablo Andujar (Spa), Pauline Parmentier (Fra) v (4) Victoria Azarenka (Blr)
Court 1: 11:00: Jie Zheng (Chn) v (9) Petra Kvitova (Cze), Xavier Malisse (Bel) v (16) Fernando Verdasco (Spa), (30) Roberta Vinci (Ita) v Iryna Bremond (Fra), Arnaud Clement (Fra) v Michael Berrer (Ger)
Court 2: 11:00: Sania Mirza (Ind) v (12) Agnieszka Radwanska
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