Five Argentine 'Gauchos' are in action


PARIS – With rain ending play prematurely Sunday, Week 2 begins with a blockbuster lineup of many of the game's greats. Five "gauchos," led by defending champion Gaston Gaudio and Guillermo Coria, give Monday a definite Argentine flavor. Marat Safin also lurks along with the surging Rafael Nadal, who will resume his match against Sebastien Grosjean. On the women's side, Justine Henin-Hardenne faces a tough test against Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Maria Sharapova will complete her fourth-round match.


• No. 8 seed Guillermo Coria continues to try to shake the memory of his collapse in the 2004 final. Speedy Coria will be the heavy favorite against Nikolay Davydenko. Coria has beaten Davydenko easily in both of their meetings, including a win in the first round last year. Davydenko enters this showdown playing some of the best tennis of his young career. He's won his past eight matches including a title at St. Poelten earlier this month. Overall, the Russian, who turns 24 on Thursday, has won 12 of his past 13 matches, losing only to Roger Federer in the Hamburg semifinals.

• Fan favorite Marat Safin says he enjoys playing at Roland Garros and his results here show it. After shaking left knee tendinitis and defeating 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in one of the best matches of this year's event, third-seeded Safin has reached the round of 16 here in six of seven tries. That's consistency for someone who's been labeled inconsistent throughout his career. Safin's fourth-round foe, Tommy Robredo, is another man who has shown steady results on the red earth. Robredo, a 23-year-old Spaniard, has advanced to his third straight fourth round here but has yet to win the breakthrough match. Safin leads this head-to-head 4-2 and 3-1 on clay, but as we all know with him, anything can happen.


• The 2003 U.S. Open champion, Justine Henin-Hardenne, takes on the current title holder, Svetlana Kuznetsova. The pair met for the first time on clay in Warsaw last month, and Henin-Hardenne won the third set 7-5. Henin-Hardenne has been no stranger to three-set battles here, going the distance against Conchita Martinez and Anabel Medina Garrigues. Kuznetsova has had it easier – only one three-setter against American Marissa Irvin in her last match. Still, Henin-Hardenne carries a 20-match win streak into Monday's match.

Also in action: The Argentine contingent is in full force today. In addition to Coria, Guillermo Canas, Mariano Puerta, Jose Acususo and defending champion Gaston Gaudio will also be in action. Canas will be seeking his second career Slam quarterfinal against Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, who will try for his first final eight in a major since the 2000 U.S. Open. Argentina will be guaranteed at least one spot in the quarterfinal as Roddick-conquerer Acususo faces countryman Puerta in a battle of two guys enjoying their best Slam runs to date. The lefty Puerta defeated Acususo earlier in the year in the semifinals at Buenos Aires. On the women's side, Sharapova has a 6-2, 3-3 lead in her fourth-round match with Nuria Llagstera Vives of Spain. Rising 17-year-old star Ana Ivanovic plays veteran Francesca Schiavone for the first time.

Stat du Jour: Marat Safin is 10-0 in Slam play this year. Outside of the majors, he is 8-7.