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Indians Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza will have to compete out of their skins if they aspire to make it to the second round at the French Open.
Both Somdev and Sania have drawn tricky opponents in the opening round and it would be extremely difficult for them to go past their higher ranked rivals. While world no.66 Somdev will fight it out against former world no.3 Ivan Ljubicic, Mirza will clash with German Kristina Barrois to begin India's campaign at Roland Garros.
The gutsy Devvarman has been impressive this season including a pre-quaterfinals showing at Indian Wells where he lost to world no.1 Rafael Nadal, but as luck would have it, the 2009 Chennai Open finalist will have to contend with Ljubicic, a former semifinalist at the French Open. Moreover, Sania will also have her work cut out as she will take on the in-form world no.59 Barrios and it could be too much of a challenge for the former world no.27 as she heads into Paris on the back of a poor run of form.
Devvarman will be making his second appearance in the Main Draw at Roland Garros and is currently at a career high rank of 66 in the world. His 32-year old opponent, Ljubicic, will be making his 12th appearance at Roland Garros. Ljubicic's game though is better suited to the faster courts, evident by his 5 first round exits at the tournament. Somdev will be desperately hoping to make than an awkward 6 from 12 this coming week. Ljubicic though has shown that he once had the skill to hold his own against the baseliners, evident from his run to the semi-finals in 2006 where he ran into the eventual champion Rafael Nadal. Ljubicic and Devvarman have never played each other previously.
Should Devvarman be able to squeeze past Ljubicic he will run into the winner of what should be an intriguing contest between Sam Querrey and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
In the meantime, the first lady of Indian Tennis will take to the courts at Roland Garros for the fifth time. The Hyderabadi is in the bottom half of the draw alongside former world no.1 Maria Sharapova and will have to play her best tennis to defeat her German foe as she has been struggling with her form on a surface which just does not suit her style of play. On the other hand, the Urexweiler resident will be supremely confident heading into Paris, because of her improved performance on the European dirt this season.
The German had reached the final at the Estoril Open just three weeks ago, but Sania has a better win/loss record of the two players this season. This would be the first meeting between the two and if the Indian is able to cross this hurdle, then she can prepare herself for a possible showdown with 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland.
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