Nearly one week into the French Open, ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe unveils his top five observations.
1. Nadal starting to regain form
It may be too early to tell, but the first two match wins for Rafael Nadal were certainly impressive. He seems to have rediscovered his timing, and the big misses we saw during the European clay-court swing have been infrequent so far. Of course, Rafa didn't have daunting opponents early on. He played a teenager (Quentin Halys) and then a fellow Spaniard, whom Nadal has owned over the years (Nicolas Almagro). The real tests await; Jack Sock, who clocks his forehand as hard as Nadal, could present a challenge for the 14-time Grand Slam champion Saturday before his potential showdown in the quarterfinals against Novak Djokovic.
2. Serena's perilous path
Serena Williams was in cruise control in her first-round win but was well off her game in Round 2 against young German Anna-Lena Friedsam, who is ranked outside the top 100. Now, a huge challenge is next for Serena. She will play Victoria Azarenka, whom the world No. 1 barely beat a few weeks ago in the fourth round of Madrid. Serena needed a third-set tiebreaker to prevail. If she escapes, Serena could face fellow American Sloane Stephens, who took down Venus Williams in the opening round of Roland Garros. This is a pretty daunting path for Serena just to make the quarterfinals. But expect Serena to do what she usually does -- raise her level.
3. The youngsters are coming
Besides 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios' journey to the Australian Open quarterfinals last year, we haven't seen many teenagers make deep runs, but it sure looks as though the new brigade is ready to become a major factor in major tennis. Croatian Borna Coric, 18, has been awfully impressive in his first two matches, knocking off big-hitting American Sam Querrey and the wily Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo in five tough sets. Coric next takes on Sock (who himself is only 22) in a very intriguing third-round matchup. Another teenager, one of the talented young Aussies, Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is only 19, came back from two sets down to take out countryman Bernard Tomic. Kokkinakis' reward? A third-round showdown against world No. 1 Djokovic on Saturday.
4. Djokovic playing like a world No. 1
Speaking of Djokovic, the only thing on his mind has to be his probable quarterfinal opponent, Nadal, the King of Dirt. Djokovic has been his usual dominant self so far, and expect more of the same from him as he prepares to face the ultimate tennis challenge -- beating Nadal in a best-of-five on red clay. Can't wait.
5. Spotlight on Sharapova
European dominance has been prevalent in the bottom half of the women's draw. Of the 16 players left in the draw as of Friday morning, Samantha Stosur was the only non-European left. Her matchup against two-time French champ Maria Sharapova will be the highlight of the third round. Sharapova is the favorite to get through to the final, but the defending champ is hardly a shoo-in, however, as the bottom half is full of veteran clay-courters such as Serbia's Ana Ivanovic and Carla Suarez-Navarro from Spain. Also pay close attention to youngster Elina Svitolina, who may very well be ready for a big push in a major.