With the second round of the French Open in the books, it's time to highlight which players are on the rise and which ones look most vulnerable heading into the next round. Players who have been eliminated are of little interest to fantasy players as the tournament unfolds, so this column is meant to take a look ahead based on what's happened so far rather than reflect on the past.
The Big 3 are continuing their steady march through the top half of the men's draw, even as the upsets continue to pile up, leaving only two chalk third-round matchups between seeds out of a possible 16. A few other reliable veterans have kept from catching the upset bug as well and are now looking at nice opportunities to make a deep run. The biggest story of the second round was top-seeded Ashleigh Barty's calf injury, which forced her to retire in the second round of her match against Magda Linette. Following Barty's exit, just five of the top 12 women's seeds remain. Among those, one has looked particularly dominant, while another will be on upset alert in the third round.
Novak Djokovic - Djokovic is the largest threat to Rafael Nadal's chase for a 14th French Open title, and he's done nothing to dispel that notion through two rounds. Tennys Sandgren and Pablo Cuevas combined to take just 17 games off the top-seeded Serb, and the draw remains favorable for Djokovic moving forward, with 93rd-ranked Ricardas Berankis up next followed by the winner of the all-unseeded-Italian showdown between Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Musetti. Djokovic should cruise into the quarterfinals, which is a good thing considering back-to-back matches against Roger Federer and Nadal could await him at that stage.
Diego Schwartzman - Schwartzman's flying under the radar, but the 2020 French Open semifinalist is in good position to make another deep run. He took out Yen-Hsun Lu and Aljaz Bedene in straight sets in the first two rounds, and the 10th-seeded Argentine has a favorable third-round draw against 132nd-ranked veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. Assuming he gets through Kohlschreiber, Schwartzman will also be heavily favored in the Round of 16 against either Carlos Alcaraz or Jan-Lennard Struff. Neither of those guys are seeded, and while Alcaraz is among the game's brightest young stars, the 18-year-old Spaniard may not be ready to challenge a player of Schwartzman's level in what's just Alcaraz's second career Grand Slam main draw.
Fabio Fognini - Fognini got through a potentially tricky second-round hurdle without issues, knocking off Marton Fuscovics – who reached the French Open fourth round last season and upset Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open – 7-6 (6), 6-1, 6-2. The fiery Italian has seen his draw open up nicely, as the 27th-seeded Fognini will face unseeded Federico Delbonis in a spot that was originally expected to be occupied by No. 4 seed Dominic Thiem, who lost in the first round. While Fognini would be the underdog against 15th-seeded Casper Ruud in the Round of 16 if both get there, Fognini has the higher ceiling and is looking at a great opportunity to make what would be just his second career Grand Slam quarterfinal; the other came way back at the 2011 French Open.
John Isner - Isner has looked great through two rounds, but he's gotten an unlucky draw. While third-round opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas is seeded fifth, he's perhaps the player you'd least want to face here after Nadal and Djokovic. The 2020 French Open semifinalist is 18-3 on clay this season and is yet to drop a set through two rounds. Isner's serve is capable of keeping him in any match – he took Nadal to 6-4 in the fifth at this tournament 10 years ago – but he'll be a heavy underdog against Tsitsipas, who has won their last three head-to-head meetings after Isner took the first two. Against almost any other player left, the 31st-seeded American would have been looking at a nice opportunity to reach the Round of 16 here for the fourth time.
Henri Laaksonen - The 150th-ranked Laaksonen is coming off the biggest win of his career, having upset 11th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. He'll be the clear underdog against former world No. 4 Kei Nishikori in the third round, but don't be so quick to write Laaksonen off. Nishikori has looked spry and healthy thus far, but his career has been derailed by injuries in recent years, so it's fair to wonder how much he has left in the tank after a pair of grueling five-setters to open this tournament. He's already spent over eight hours on court in wins over Alessandro Giannessi and Karen Khachanov, while Laaksonen needed only a combined four hours and 34 minutes to get through his first two rounds.
Iga Swiatek - Swiatek didn't drop more than five games in a match in her run to the 2020 French Open title, and she's on course to repeat that feat again in this tournament, notching a 6-0, 7-5 win over Kaja Juvan in the first round followed by a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Rebecca Peterson. The defending champ was the player to beat here even before Simona Halep (calf) withdrew pre-tournament and a wave of prominent upsets and withdrawals followed. Third-round opponent Anett Kontaveit has actually beaten Swiatek in both of their previous matchups, including the 2020 Australian Open, but those results both came on hard courts, and the eighth-seeded Swiatek's a different beast on clay.
Marta Kostyuk - This could be the breakout tournament for the 18-year-old Kostyuk. She's into the third round of a Grand Slam for the third time in five career main draws, and the Ukrainian has a great opportunity to finally push past that stage against fellow youngster Varvara Gracheva, who's only 20 herself. Kostyuk has looked impressive through two rounds, eliminating No. 12 seed Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in the first round and backing up that victory with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Saisai Zheng.
Tamara Zidansek - Zidansek's third-round appearance here already represents her best Grand Slam result to date, and the 23-year-old Slovenian's showing no signs of slowing down. She outlasted No. 6 seed Bianca Andreescu in a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (2), 9-7 first-round battle, then cruised through Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-1 to set up a third-round meeting with fellow unseeded player Katerina Siniakova. Most of Siniakova's success has come in doubles, and she needed three sets to get through each of her first two matches. If Zidansek gets through Siniakova, she would face another unseeded opponent in the Round of 16 – either Sorana Cirstea or Daria Kasatkina.
Elise Mertens - Mertens recovered nicely after dropping the first set to eliminate 93rd-ranked Zarina Diyas 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round, but the 14th-seeded Belgian will need to raise her level significantly to top No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari in the third round. Sakkari's in the midst of a breakout campaign and dropped only five games apiece in her first two rounds. Mertens leads their head-to-head 4-3, but Sakkari won their only previous clay-court meeting back in 2019.
Danielle Collins - Collins is coming off a convincing 6-0, 6-2 second-round win over Anhelina Kalinina, while Serena Williams hasn't displayed her finest form thus far, needing an 8-6 tiebreak to win the first set of her first-round match against Irina-Camelia Begu and dropping a set against Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round. Clay is the seventh-seeded Williams' least-favorite surface, while Collins is no stranger to Grand Slam success, having made the quarterfinals at this event last season and the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2019.