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Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, at the Italian Open in  May,  2019. 
Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, at the Italian Open in May,  2019. |Gregorio Borgia | Associated Press
Tennis

Friday 3rd Round Roland Garros women’s matches: Abrams picks Pliskova, Svitolina, Sevastova, Stephens, Vondrousova, Konta, Bencic & Kanepi

French Open play starts at 5 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

French Open
Stade Roland Garros
Paris, France
Friday, May 31, 2019
Women’s Third Round Picks

Karolina Pliskova over Petra Martic
We’re going to find out how good Karolina Pliskova is playing when she takes on a personal nemesis, Petra Martic, who holds a 3-1 match advantage over the second seed. In all fairness, Martic won her three matches in 2009 and 2013 and Pliskova’s lone victory occurred a couple of months ago in Miami, but the record tells me that there’s something about Martic’s style that makes Pliskova feel uncomfortable. Pliskova is the second seed based on her 2019 record, but Martic is also seeded, and has come through a test when she destroyed Kristina Mladenovic in the second round. I like Pliskova, even though Martic is a far better mover, because Pliskova hits harder, deeper, and is not too error-prone.

Elina Svitolina over Garbine Muguruza
This should be a titanic battle, and if Garbine Muguruza is really back to top-notch form, she could easily win this match. But Elina Svitolina is ranked 9th, and is having a terrific year. She came through a first round test by taking out Venus Williams in straight sets, with nary a hiccup. Now, Williams is not what she used to be, but she is still a player that other Tour pros don’t want to see as a first round opponent, so Svitolina was forced to step up right away here in Paris. I think Svitolina is ready for a deep run in this tournament and Muguruza is just a speedbump along the way.

Anastasija Sevastova over Elise Mertens
Anastasija Sevastova hasn’t lost a set yet, nor has she even been tested. And although Elise Mertens is a top rate player, I think Sevastova’s good form won’t be tested much in this encounter either.

Sloane Stephens over Polona Hercog
Polona Hercog is 6’ tall and can hit a ton, but that just doesn’t matter. The outcome of this match is all up to American Sloane Stephens, as always. If Sloane is playing well, this match will be over quickly, as Stephens will move Hercog from corner to corner until she either makes an error or can’t catch up to the next shot. But if Stephens’ alter ego makes her way onto the court, she’ll go down and will deserve to.

Marketa Vondrousova over Carla Suarez Navarro
In a match of the young versus the old, I’m going with youth. Marketa Vondrousova entered this tournament with a YTD record of 22-6, while Carla Suarez Navarro was only 10-11. Since they’ve never played each other, I’m going with the player who has the current momentum, and that’s Vondrousova.

Johanna Konta over Viktoria Kuzmova
Johanna Konta is hot, and usually the hot player wins matches from opponents who are on the same level. But in this case, Viktoria Kuzmova isn’t on on the same level. Konta is ranked 20 spots higher than Kuzmova and is 21-9 for the year. That’s all I’ve gotta know.

Belinda Bencic over Donna Vekic
Belinda Bencic holds a 2-0 advantage over her fellow 22-year-old, and is ranked 15th, versus 24th for Vekic. Additionally, Bencic has been on somewhat of a roll lately, going 24-10 this year, while Vekic is 16-9. Vekic doesn’t have a bad record, but Bencic is playing better tennis, so I’d look for her to win this one.

Kai Kanepi over Veronika Kudermetova
These two just played a couple of weeks ago in Charleston on the har-tru there with the Estonian, Kanepi, taking their first round match in straight sets. But if you remember, it was cold and rainy, and the court was a bit of a mess, so I’m not sure how much that counts. But Kanepi took out 18th seeded Julia Goerges and then Shuai Zhang here in Paris, which tells me she’s on her game. Not to be outdone, Kudermetova beat the dashing Dane, Caroline Wozniacki 3 and 3, after dropping the first set at love, which Wozniacki explained away as her opponent getting “lucky”. I’m not sure I buy that explanation, but this will be close. I like Kanepi because she’s got a lot of confidence and momentum.