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French Open: First-round tasks facing Australians

With the French Open first round upon us, Australia’s tennis stars are getting ready to start their hopefully lengthy journeys in Paris.

The injured Nick Kyrgios will play no part in the second Grand Slam event of 2023 after suffering a foot laceration ahead of the highly-anticipated competition. 

With Kyrgios out of the running, it provides an opportunity for other Australians to grab the headlines and fly the flag for their country in Paris. 

De Minaur eyeing flying start

WhatFrench Open
WhereParis, France
WhenSunday 28th May - Sunday 11th June
How to watchDiscovery+
OddsCarlos Alcaraz 2.25, Novak Djokovic 2.87, Holger Rune 8.00, Stefanos Tsitsipas 9.00

Alex de Minaur will be hoping he can reach the latter stages of the competition but first, the 24-year-old must get past the Belarussian Ilya Ivashka. 

These players have never met before at the French Open but many will expect De Minaur, at 1.28 to win the match, while Ivashka is available at 3.75 to cause an upset in the first round.  

De Minaur has shown he can battle to the latter stages of Grand Slams before, having reached the US Open quarter-finals three years ago. 

However, the Sydney native has struggled on clay in the past in Paris and has never gone beyond the second round. Still, De Minaur should have too much quality for his opening-round opponent and is 2.62 to win in straight sets. 

Kokkinakis targets early upset 

Adelaide star Thanasi Kokkinakis managed to reach the French Open third round back in 2015 but has not been able to win a match at this Grand Slam event since. 

It means the 27-year-old will have to put in one of his best clay performances in years if he’s to overcome Britain’s Dan Evans in the first round. 

What will give Kokkinakis hope is that Evans has hardly shone himself at the French Open in the past, having only ever reached the second round. 

It looks set to be an intriguing contest, with Kokkinakis at 2.10 for the win, while Birmingham’s Evans is available at 1.72 to reach the next round. 

Birrell the favourite to proceed 

Gold Coast talent Kimberley Birrell is one of only two Australians, along with Storm Hunter, to be in the first round proper of the women’s French Open this year. 

Birrell will be looking to reach the French Open second round for the very first time in her career as the 25-year-old prepares to face France’s Leolia Jeanjean. 

The star of Montpellier has reached the third round of her home slam before but is the underdog heading into this opening-round clash with Birrell. 

It’s Birrell who is available at 1.80 for her first win in the main draw of the French Open, while Jeanjean is at 2.00 to claim the victory. 

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