Chardy and the French crowds next for Nishikori

Day five at Roland Garros sees Kei Nishikori square up with France’s Jérémy Chardy and the Parisian fans are expected to get right behind the latter in what will be a test of ability as much as it will be a test of temperament for Japan’s number one.

Day four at Roland Garros was another gripping day of tennis and drama. In the men’s draw Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal continued on their merry ways as both players won in straight sets against João Sousa and Robin Haase respectively – one cannot underestimate the importance of winning quickly at a grand slam that is as gruelling as Roland Garros.

The upset of the day was without doubt the defeat French number one, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, was handed by Argentina’s Renzo Olivo, who is ranked 91st in the world.

In the women’s draw, defending champion Garbine Muguruza booked her place in the third round as she overcame Anett Kontaveit.

Venus Williams continued her challenge for her first ever Roland Garros title in her 20th appearance at the event as she trounced Japan’s Kurumi Nara in quick time.

However, Petra Kvitova’s comeback was sadly ended by American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands – the mere fact that she is back competing after surviving a knife attack in her home just five months ago will surely be a victory in itself though for the Czech ace.

Looking ahead, day five on the courts of Stade Roland Garros is shaping up to be a ripper.

The pick of the matches will be Nishikori’s meeting with local lad Chardy. The flag bearer of tennis in Asia will play the world number 74 in a hostile environment and the influence of the crowd is likely to make what would normally be a straight-forward encounter for Nishikori something a fair bit more difficult.

Speaking ahead of the match, Nishikori said he was just happy to be fit again after suffering from wrist problems recently and played down the significance of the home support.

“After Madrid, Rome, [the wrist is] getting much better,” he explained.

“Physically I’m feeling strong again, so I hope it’s not coming back, because there is chance to come back inflamed again.

“So I try to take care all the time and hopefully will stay healthy.”

Thursday also sees Andy Murray face Martin Klizan.

It will be interesting to see the condition the Slovakian is in after a five-set marathon with Laurent Lokoli in round one ended in controversy when Lokoli accused Klizan of exaggerating physical problems and refused to shake hands at the end – dismissing him with a shooing gesture.

Murray is not taking anything for granted though and is well aware of how dangerous unconventional players like Klizan are.

“He has a lot of talent,” said Murray.

“He can hit a big ball.

“He is quite unpredictable on the court.

“He plays a lot of drop shots and quite unorthodox sort of shot selection, so it can be difficult to prepare for that.”

In the women’s draw, a number of big names will be on show.

World number three, Karolina Pliskova, and world number four, Simona Halep, will play Ekaterina Alexandrova and Tatjana Maria respectively. Neither player should have any problems with such lowly ranked opponents but the women’s draw has been volatile to say the least and one gets the feeling that anything can happen on any given day. The best-of-three-sets format that the women play make upsets far more likely as lesser players need to get hot for shorter periods of time to win.

Another match worth keeping a close eye on will be the all-French date between Caroline Garcia and Chloe Paquet.