With the third 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 owners 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.
On the men's side, players with multiple deep Grand Slam runs under their belts are favored to dispose of some guys who might just be happy to have gotten this far. Meanwhile, the women's draw just keeps opening up further. Only nine of the 16 players left are seeded, with just two of the top 11 remaining. Four American women remain, but one high seed will need to raise her level if she wants to avoid joining the long list of notable players sent home early.
Kei Nishikori - It wasn't easy, but Nishikori outlasted 31st seed Laslo Djere 8-6 in the fifth set in the third round. His reward for that win is a Round of 16 clash against 30-year-old Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has never advanced past this stage at a Grand Slam in his career.
Dominic Thiem - Thiem will be battling both the crowd and his opponent when he takes on Frenchman Gael Monfils, but the Austrian should still be viewed as the heavy favorite in this match. He's reached the semifinals here in each of the past three years, getting to the championship match in 2018. The No. 4 seed is closer to the top three on clay than he is to the rest of the field, and his ability to control rallies from the baseline should trouble the defensive-minded Monfils. Thiem's stylistic advantage has played out before in their head-to-head – he's won all four of their previous meetings.
Alexander Zverev - While Zverev has battled through to the fourth round, he's been far from his best in doing so. He hasn't faced anyone ranked better than 30th, but the fifth seed has already been pushed to five sets twice. Unless he noticeably raises his level, Zverev will have a hard time getting past No. 9 seed Fabio Fognini in the fourth round. Fognini's playing the best tennis of his career, and the flashy Italian is brimming with confidence after taking home his first Masters title in Monte Carlo earlier in the clay-court swing.
Stan Wawrinka - Wawrinka has navigated a tricky draw superbly to this point, dropping only one set through the first three rounds. He'll certainly be the underdog against sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round, but the No. 24 seed could well pull off the upset. Wawrinka has always played his best tennis in Grand Slams, and he showed in 2015 that he has what it takes to go all the way at Roland Garros.
Madison Keys - Keys is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Katerina Siniakova's upset of Naomi Osaka, as the hard-hitting American will now face the unseeded Siniakova in the fourth round rather than the No. 1 seed. While Siniakova proved that she's no pushover, Keys will certainly be favored in this match and is positioned to make a serious run at her first career Grand Slam title.
Anastasija Sevastova - Sevastova survived a marathon Friday, knocking out Elise Mertens 6-7 (3), 6-4, 11-9. The No. 12 seed will have her work cut out for her in the fourth round against Marketa Vondrousova, who is having a great season and just missed being seeded here. That said, this is Vondrousova's first time past the second round of a Grand Slam, while Sevastova has been as far as the semifinals of the 2018 US Open. Sevastova's variety makes her a strong clay-courter, and she's favored to reach her second semifinal in the last three Grand Slams as the highest-ranked player left in her quarter of the draw.
Sloane Stephens - It's fitting that Stephens and No. 3 Simona Halep – last year's runner-up and champion, respectively, are the two highest seeds left in the draw. Despite her track record of success on this surface, there's reason to worry about the No. 7 seed. Stephens was inconsistent in her 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 third-round win over Polona Hercog, and her draw gets much tougher against 19th-seeded Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza won this title in 2016 and made quick work of No. 9 seed Elina Svitolina with a 6-3, 6-3 win in the third round.
Sofia Kenin - Kenin's coming off a career-defining 6-2, 7-5 win over Serena Williams, and the 20-year-old American has her sights set on another upset against eighth-seeded Australian Ashleigh Barty. Barty hasn't previously displayed much proficiency on clay – she had never made it past the second round in five previous appearances at the French Open prior to this tournament.