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Karolina Pliskova squares off against Kristina Kucova in the 2nd Round of the French Open. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
Karolina Pliskova squares off against Kristina Kucova in the 2nd Round of the French Open. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)|Associated Press
Tennis

French Open Wednesday Women: Abrams picks Pliskova v Kucova, Muguruza v Larsson, Svitolina v Kozlova, Mertens, Bertens Minella and more

Matches start at 5 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

French Open
Stade Roland Garros
Paris, France
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Women’s Second Round Picks

Garbine Muguruza over Johanna Larsson
Somehow 30-year-old Swede, Johanna Larsson, has avoided all the cameras of fans, paparazzi, and stalkers. It’s hard to figure, expect that maybe she just doesn’t stick around long enough in the tournaments to get noticed. Unfortunately for her, she’s gonna head out early here in Paris, too. Garbine Muguruza, the 25-year-old Venezuelan who now lives in Geneva, Switzerland, is gonna run all over her blonde opponent. Muguruza is an icon here, having won Roland Garros in 2016, and having won Wimbledon the following year. Her following will root her on as she improves on her career 25-5 mark in the City of Light. Larsson came into Paris with a YTD record of 2-12. No wonder the cameras can’t find her.

Elina Svitolina over Kateryna Kozlova
Although 67th ranked Kateryna Kozlova has a 20-13 YTD record, she is only 2-11, lifetime, in Grand Slam events. Elina Svitolina, ranked 9th in the world, is going to hit Kozlova off the court today. Her groundies are hard and consistent, her serve is a weapon, and she can move with the best of them. What’s more, she’s 15-6 here in Paris. Enough said.

Elise Mertens over Diane Parry
Dianne Parry, a 16-year-old favorite daughter who got a wild card into the event won her first WTA main draw match and first Grand Slam match two days ago over Vera Lapko, and set a record as the youngest woman to win a main draw match in Paris this decade. Showcasing a fantastic one-handed backhand that took her to the heights of Girls Junior Tennis, Parry is clearly the French hope of the future. But not today. She’s coming up against Elise Mertens, a 23-year-old experienced Belgian, who has been playing on the Tour for six years already. Mertens is the 20th ranked player in the world, got to the semis of last years’ Australian Open, and is a bit too high for Parry to reach right now. But watch this match. You’ll remember it.

Anastasija Sevastova over Mandy Minella
Boy, I really want to like Mandy Minella. She’s young (33), she’s beautiful, she’s statuesque (5’11”), and she’s rich (she’s won over $1.7 Million), but she just doesn’t win much. The native of Luxembourg, who is a mother, looked great in her straight set beat down of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. That should go a long way in giving her some confidence. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be enough against 12th seeded Anastasija Sevastova, who had a straight set win of her own. This might not last long, so if you want to catch Minella playing, show up early.

Kristina Mladenovic over Petra Martic
These two are close, and Martic is the seed here after showing nice form this Spring, particularly in her run to the semis in Charleston, SC. And although Mladenovic is only ranked 53rd, I’ve got a feeling that the French native who now lives in Dubai will win this match. I like the way she’s both striking the ball and competing, and I think she’ll overcome her 1-2 career record against Martic and shock the draw.

Donna Vekic over Rebecca Peterson
These two played at Wimbledon last year and Vekic took out Peterson, the 23-year-old from Stockholm, in straight sets. Although the rallies will be longer and more creative in Paris, I think the result will be the same. Book this one for the Croatian who lives in Monte Carlo.

Kiki Bertens over Viktoria Kuzmova
These two have played twice and have split those two matches. The difference, however, is that Bertens is having a great 2019 while Kuzmova is playing tennis as she has in the past. Bertens sports a 26-10 mark going into the Open while Kuzmova is more workmanlike at 16-12. I think Bertens has the confidence to think she should win, and that’s enough for me, as everyone knows how much tennis is in the head.

Karolina Pliskova over Kristina Kucova
The 6’1” Pliskova is ranked No. 2 on the WTA computer and brings in a 28-7 record for the year into this match against Kristina Kucova, a 29-year-old journeyman from Slovakia. But Kucova had a nice straight set first round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, which surprised me, and carries her own 17-6 record YTD into this match. I think Kucova can offer a challenge, but if Pliskova is as good as advertised, she should pull this one out without breaking her supper plans.

Marketa Vondrousova over Anastasia Potapova
Russian 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova may have taken out Angie Kerber in the first round, but one of the hardest things to do in tennis is to follow up an upset with another one. I don’t think that’s gonna happen here. Vondrousova is a real up-and-comer, and she’s been playing too well to let this chance to move into Round Three slip between her fingers. I say the 19-year-old from the Czech Republic moves on, with a chance to go further.

Johanna Konta over Lauren Davis
Johanna Konta finally got her first win in Paris under her belt with her first round romp over Antonia Lottner, and now can settle down and play her game without too much pressure. When she plays as she’s able, she’s a very tough competitor and a really nice player. She’s shown that finally this year with her 21-9 record, and her run to the finals of Rome where she beat Alison Riske, Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams, Marketa Vondrousova, and Kiki Bertens before falling to Karolina Pliskova in the finals. I love Lauren Davis, because she’s a great competitor fit into a tiny 5’2” package, but I don’t think the Ohio native has a good shot here. Konta seems like she’s on a roll.