The determined: Raonic, Djokovic, Schiavone, Muguruza and more  

At ROLAND GARROS –

The Men
When he is healthy, very healthy, Milos Raonic can actually win a Grand Slam. Maybe in Wimbledon, or the US Open, but right now he isn’t 100 percent physically. He is tall, his first serve is massive, his forehand is phenomenal and, without a doubt, his backhand has been improved over the past two years.

However, he is often hurt, which is why the 26-year-old has yet to win a major yet. Obviously, it’s not easy, given that he has to beat the fantastic competitors: Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. Combined, the Big 5 guys have won 50 Grand Slams. To even get in there, Raonic has to improve every day because the Big 5 are super intelligent, and they are very fast, and they can return like animals. Raonic can club the ball, but outside of the Big 5, no one else can return consistency well — like Raonic. However, the Canadian is trying, so maybe this year, he can break the serves, and break it again.

On clay, you have to grind it out.

On Monday, he did, beating Steve Darci 6-3 6-4 6-2. That’s a good start. But can he win the tournament? Hmmm.  

“Every single match I step out on court, I know I will be able to have the opportunity to create chances to win,” said Raonic, who has never reached the semis at Roland Garros. “Will I do that? Will I get to that stage, and will I make the most of them? That’s another thing. But I believe a lot in my tennis.”

GOOD WINS, BAD LOSSES
Former US Open champ Marin Cilic beat Ernests Gulbis in three sets. Cilic is very powerful, but he doesn’t slice enough

How about Joao Sousa who upset the former top-10er Janko Tipsarevic 4-6 7-6 6-2 6-2? Good for Sousa, but now he has to play Novak Djokovic, who smoked Marcel Granollers. Andre Agassi is here coaching Djokovic, which is super interesting, but they don’t know each other well — yet — so the Serbian has to rely on his ample experience.

The nine-time champion Rafa Nadal waxed Benoit Paire 6-1 6-4 6-1. He will play against Robin Haase. Straight sets for Nadal. He will cruise until the quarters next week. 

David Goffin was on fire, overwhelming Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 6-2 6-2. Goffin might face Dominic Thiem in the fourth round. Pick-em.

Jack Sock lost against the vet Jiri Vesely 7-5 7-5 6-3. The American has to welcome a return to grass. Ryan Harrison lost against the Brit Aljaz Bedene 6-4 6-0 3-6 6-1. Clearly, Harrison will be happier when he lands in England.

A tough lost by the Frenchman Gilles Simon, who went down against Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The Women
At the end of this year — allegedly — Francesca Schiavone will retire. She’s 36 years old, and even though she’s a little bit slow now, she still can run and run for hours. Unfortunately, the Italian lost against Garbine Muguriza in two tough sets.

A few years ago, Schiavone won the title at RG. She was so enthusiastic, so fast, delivering her shots with so much spin. She has declined though, but at the very least, she can be funny.

After she lost in Paris on Monday, she smiled and said: “I hate sometimes tennis. Is a big relation. Is a love that you have to love and then you hate sometimes. It’s like when you marry someone.”

The Spaniard Muguruza used to watch Schiavone playing on court. She still does.

“I think she loves it. She kind of enjoys out there. I saw her match in the final here, and I kind of like it. I was happy that she won the French Open at that time,” Muguruza said. “I don’t see myself playing at 36 with that shape. I think she has spectacular body, to be able to do that. I don’t know if my body can handle with how many injuries I have, and I’m 23. So it’s gonna be tough.”

For sure.

Some quick ones
Kristina Mladenovic beat Jennifer Brady 3-6 6-3 9-7 in a classic match.  Mladenovic was slightly injured but she hung in there. Can she push on after 3 hours? Hard to say, but the Frenchwoman really wants to go very The No. 3 Karolina Pliskova blasted Zheng Saisai. We all know how good she is, but on clay, she has to bear down.

Good wins by Sam Stosur, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Catherine Bellis and Varvara Lepchenko.

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