Ash Barty could face Serena Williams early at French Open
Ash Barty, leading 11 confirmed Australian starters at the 2018 French Open, could face a tough early test in Paris.
Australian No.1 Ash Barty could strike Serena Williams in the second round of the French Open following Friday’s draw in Paris.
Barty, the 17th seed, will open against Russia’s world No.81 Natalia Vikhlyantseva with the victor facing the daunting prospect of running into Williams in the 23-time major winner’s long-awaited Grand Slam comeback.
Williams, a three-time champion in Paris, is playing without a seeding this year after arriving as the world No.453 following the birth of her daughter Olympia last September.
The American superstar drew big-serving Czech Kristyna Pliskova in her first match in pursuit of a fourth crown in Paris.
Nick Kyrgios, seeded 21st in the men’s event, and Jordan Thompson fared best among the Australians, both drawing qualifiers.
Kyrgios or Thompson could potentially play Bernard Tomic, the last Aussie survivor in qualifying following Thursday’s elimination of women’s hopeful Lizette Cabrera.
Tomic takes on Portugal’s Goncalo Oliveira on Friday night for a spot in the 128-man main draw.
James Duckworth on the comeback from foot surgery is set for a show-court shot at Croatian third seed Marin Cilic, the Australian Open 2018 runner-up to Roger Federer.
Teenage wildcard Alex de Minaur is up against British 16th seed Kyle Edmund, a Melbourne Park semifinalist, while John Millman plays Canadian young gun Denis Shapovalov, the 24th seed.
Matt Ebden squares off with Italian Thomas Fabbiano.
Like Barty, former finalist Samantha Stosur also faces an early-round showdown with one of the women’s heavyweights.
Stosur opens against Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, with third-seeded 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza or 2009 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova looming as potential third-round obstacles for Australia’s four-time semifinalist.
Australian No.2 Daria Gavrilova plays Romanian Sorana Cirstea, while Ajla Tomljanovic has a challenging first-round assignment against Ukraine’s fourth seed Elina Svitolina.
Wildcard playoff winner Isabelle Wallace will make her French Open debut against Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.