French Open R1 previews: Paire vs. Baghdatis, Dimitrov vs. Falla

Fast-rising fan favorites Benoit Paire and Grigor Dimitrov will kick off their Roland Garros campaigns on Wednesday. They are going up against Marcos Baghdatis and Alejandro Falla, respectively.

(24) Benoit Paire vs. Marcos Baghdatis

One of these guys is surging into prominence right now as they head into a first-round showdown at the French Open…and it’s not Baghdatis. The 39th-ranked Cypriot has lost his opening match at his las six tournaments (including one Challenger), and he has picked up a mere two victories since getting a retirement from Paire in their only previous encounter at Rotterdam’s indoor hard-court event in February.

Paire,  meanwhile, has  18 ATP-level match victories this season and he is coming off a semifinal appearance in Rome. The 24-year-old Frenchman is up to a career-high ranking of No. 26 in the world, just good enough to earn himself a Top 24 seed at Roland Garros. A complete walkover may not be the result simply because there is no denying Baghdatis’ talent and he could get back on track at any moment. This one should at least provide some awesome shot-making, but Paire has far more confidence on the slow stuff at the moment and he also has home-court advantage in France.

Pick: Paire in 4

Alejandro Falla vs. (26) Grigor Dimitrov

Falla and Dimitrov will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they meet in round one of the French Open on Tuesday. Both players are on a third-round collision course with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom Dimitrov upset in a three-hour thriller earlier this month in Madrid. That has obviously been the highlight of the 2013 campaign for Dimitrov, who also posted a runner-up finish to Andy Murray in Brisbane. The 22-year-old Bulgarian is 6-4 on clay for the season, which includes a quarterfinal run in Monte-Carlo.

On the other hand, Falla did not appear in the main draw of any clay-court Masters event (he failed to qualify in Madrid). The 74th-ranked Colombian has only a single ATP tournament match win on clay this year. He is 10-11 overall for the season, with nothing better than a quarterfinal result in San Jose. Falla has been known to be a thorn in the side of favored opponents in the past, but he really is not any better on clay than he is on hard courts or grass.

Pick: Dimitrov in 4

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