Men to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday:

___

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

FILE - In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Germany's Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Austria's Dominic Thiem during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
FILE – In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Germany’s Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Ranked: 1

Country: Serbia

Age: 32

FILE - In this June 10, 2018, file photo, Austria's Dominic Thiem plays a shot against Spain's Rafael Nadal in the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
FILE – In this June 10, 2018, file photo, Austria’s Dominic Thiem plays a shot against Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the men’s final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

2019 Match Record: 23-5

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 74

FILE - In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns a shot against Italy's Marco Cecchinato during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
FILE – In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns a shot against Italy’s Marco Cecchinato during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 15 — French Open (2016), Australian Open (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019), Wimbledon (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018), U.S. Open (2011, 2015, 2018)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Lost in Quarterfinals, 2017-QF, 2016-Won Championship, 2015-Runner-Up, 2014-RU

Aces: Eyes fourth consecutive major title, which also would move him closer to the only men with more career Slam titles, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. … Seven career victories on clay against Nadal are three more than any other player has.

FILE - In this May 30, 2018, file photo, Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Austria's Dominic Thiem during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)
FILE – In this May 30, 2018, file photo, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Topspin: His 21-match Grand Slam winning streak and recent form on clay — won Madrid Open without dropping a set; reached Italian Open final before losing to Nadal — make for an imposing presence in Paris.

___

RAFAEL NADAL

FILE - In this May 30, 2018, file photo, Japan's Kei Nishikori returns a shot against France's Benoit Paire during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
FILE – In this May 30, 2018, file photo, Japan’s Kei Nishikori returns a shot against France’s Benoit Paire during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

Ranked: 2

Country: Spain

Age: 32 (Turns 33 on June 3)

2019 Match Record: 25-5

2019 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 81

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — French Open (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018), Australian Open (2009), Wimbledon (2008, 2010), U.S. Open (2010, 2013, 2017)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-W, 2017-W, 2016-3rd, 2015-QF, 2014-W

Aces: 86-2 at Roland Garros with 11 titles. Losses: 2009 against Robin Soderling, 2015 against Novak Djokovic. … Overall mark of 429-39 on clay, a .917 winning percentage. … Capturing tour-leading 37.5 percent of return games in 2019.

Topspin: Maybe hold off on those predictions of Nadal’s demise? He is playing well on clay right when it matters the most.

___

ROGER FEDERER

Ranked: 3

Country: Switzerland

Age: 37

2019 Match Record: 22-3

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 101

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — French Open (2009), Australian Open (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018), Wimbledon (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017), U.S. Open (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Did Not Play, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP, 2015-QF, 2014-4th

Aces: How good was Federer on clay in his prime? In 100 matches from 2005-09, he went 2-9 against Nadal, 84-5 against anyone else. … Collected 101st career title and 1,200th match victory this season, joining Jimmy Connors as the only men in the professional era with that many in each category.

Topspin: Returns to Roland Garros after sitting it out each of the past three years — his absence in 2016 ended his then-record streak of 65 consecutive appearances at majors — and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t stick around until the last weekend.

___

DOMINIC THIEM

Ranked: 4

Country: Austria

Age: 25

2019 Match Record: 17-8

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 13

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, French Open (2018)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-RU, 2017-SF, 2016-SF, 2015-2nd, 2014-2nd

Aces: Nine career titles came on clay … Teamed up with 2004 Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu for coaching ahead of the clay circuit.

Topspin: Profiles as a title contender, with his sturdy frame and powerful groundstrokes, four wins over Nadal on clay and a 16-3 French Open record the past three years.

___

ALEXANDER ZVEREV

Ranked: 5

Country: Germany

Age: 22

2019 Match Record: 15-10

2019 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 10

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open (2018)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-QF, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Has half as many match wins and only a fourth as many final appearances so far in 2019 as he did a year ago at this time. … Went through a recent 4-8 stretch.

Topspin: Zverev contends, “I always have felt that I’m one of the best players in the world on clay,” but he hasn’t played that way this season. Certainly possesses the talent to turn it around.

___

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Ranked: 6

Country: Greece

Age: 20

2019 Match Record: 27-10

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 3

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, Australian Open (2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-2nd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Career-high ranking. … Youngest player to own victories over Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (on clay, no less) and Roger Federer.

Topspin: Run in Australia and recent showings on clay (title in Estoril, final in Madrid, semifinal in Rome) showed he’s starting to realize his potential, with a big forehand and slick volleys set up by good movement for a 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) guy.

___

KEI NISHIKORI

Ranked: 7

Country: Japan

Age: 29

2019 Match Record: 19-9

2019 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 12

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (2014)

Last 5 French Opens: 2018-4th, 2017-QF, 2016-4th, 2015-QF, 2014-1st

Aces: Struggled on his preferred hard courts more than usual this season, but a semifinal run at the Barcelona Open showed he still can contend on clay when healthy.

Topspin: Needs to avoid running himself ragged in the early rounds, the way he did at the Australian Open, leading to a retirement in the quarterfinals.

___