PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer goes up against an opponent he has never played before in Friday’s French Open third round: 88th-ranked Damir Dzumhur.
Federer’s been in this position many times and has faced hundreds of different opponents since winning his first title in 2001.
Nothing special for Federer.
But for the 23-year-old Bosnian, it will be a huge deal — because he’s facing his childhood idol on center court at Roland Garros.
Dzumhur, who is coached by his father, recalls watching Federer play Andy Roddick at Wimbledon.
“That was the first time I was cheering for him. Since then he’s my idol,” Dzumhur said. “I remember him since I was 10 or 11, and now I have this opportunity to play against him.”
Dzumhur has never won a title, while a championship for Federer at the French Open would give the 33-year-old Swiss star his 86th overall, his 18th in Grand Slam tournaments and his second at Roland Garros, which he won in 2009.
It appears a huge mismatch considering Dzumhur has never beaten a top-30 player.
While Federer has won three titles this year, and lost in two finals, Dzumhur’s best result in 2015 is a semifinal on clay at the lower-tier Grand Prix Hassan II tournament in Casablanca, Morocco.
The second-seeded Federer last won a Grand Slam title in 2012 with his seventh Wimbledon championship.
Here’s a look at what else is happening at the French Open on Friday:
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova will be in a confident mood against Samantha Stosur.
The second-ranked Sharapova is 14-2 against Stosur.
“Maria is always a big challenge for me,” Stosur said. “No matter what surface it’s on, I don’t have a very good record at all.”
Sharapova’s dominance over Stosur includes a 4-0 record on clay courts, having beaten her in the fourth round on the way to her second French Open title last year.
“I enjoy our matches,” Sharapova said. “I hope I can continue that.”
Stosur, who is seeded 26th, reached the French Open final in 2010 — losing to Francesca Schiavone. She won the U.S. Open in 2011.
Every year, French fans are cruelly reminded that the last man to win the French Open was Yannick Noah in 1983.
Time may be running out for the current crop of French players — several of whom are in action in Friday’s third-round play.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looked a good bet to end the barren run when he reached the Australian Open final in 2008, but he hasn’t made a Grand Slam final since.
Gael Monfils has never reached one, his best showing a semifinal at the French Open seven years ago, and Gilles Simon has never been past the quarterfinals.
The 14th-seeded Tsonga, a semifinalist here two years ago, plays Spaniard Pablo Andujar, and the 13th-seeded Monfils faces Pablo Cuevas.
Simon takes on countryman Nicolas Mahut, ensuring that at least one Frenchman will reach the fourth round.
HOPE FOR VEKIC
Although Donna Vekic of Croatia is ranked 165th, she has cause for optimism against seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
Ivanovic, who won the French Open in 2008 the year after losing in the final, has been defeated three times in Grand Slam events by opponents ranked outside the top 100.
She was eliminated by 142nd-ranked Lucie Hradecka in the Australian Open earlier this year and by No. 188 Julie Coin of France in the U.S. Open second round in 2008.
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