Friday 20 May 2011

Roland Garros Draw Preview

Let me say this in six words: The Roland Garros draw is CRUEL. Why do you do this to us, tennis gods?

I really tried to find something meaningful to say about the women's draw, but frankly - I just don't know. It could be anyone. So let's look at some parts of the men's draw.

Here's Andy Murray, for example, with his freshly cut hair (thanks for that). He's playing a qualifier in the first round. Presuming he wins it (you never know with Murray and 1st round qualifiers...), who does he get in the second round? Ah, the winner of the epic match between Mr. Qualifier 1 and Mr. Qualifier 2. Yes, life is tough in Paris.

Then we have this guy. You might have heard of him, he's called Roger Federer. 16 slams, and all that. Who does he get in his first round? Oh, just one Feliciano Lopez. It's not like they played the most amazing match a couple of weeks ago. How is that fair that one of them (meaning, Feli) is going to be out on his first day of the tournament?
By the way, the winner of this match will play the winner between two French Wild Card players, Millot and Teixeira. So the draw is tough for the locals as well, not that it's any consolation ;)

Juan Monaco, who had the worst luck with draws this year, continues with more of the same, as he plays Fernando Verdasco in the first round. Considering this was the last we've seen from Verdasco, and Monaco's good week in the World Team Cup  in Dusseldorf (Argentina's through to the finals against Germany there), maybe there's a chance for an upset here.

I won't even talk about John Isner getting Rafa Nadal in the first round, because... well, there's not much you can say about that. See you in Wimbledon, John, court 18 is already waiting... Incidentally, Nicolas Mahut will play against Kevin Anderson, another big server.

And if it's tall tennis players that you like, the Roland Garros gives you a mouth watering first round match: Juan Martin Del Potro against Ivo Karlovic.

Here I was, so happy that Del Potro was going to play in the French Open, and where does he land? In the perfect spot to meet Novak Djokovic as early as the third round. Just great.

Sarcasm aside, here are the possible quarterfinals, according to the seedings:

Rafael Nadal - Robin Soderling
Soderling is the only player who ever beat Nadal in the French Open. He reached the finals here in the last two years, beating Nadal in 2009 and Federer in 2010. Will he be able to make it for a third time? And if he does, might he stop Djokovic this year? My guess is no to both questions.
Nadal could meet Davydenko in Round 3, but I can't see him pulling an upset.

(Photo by AP Photo)

Andy Murray - Jurgen Melzer
This is probably the open part of the draw. I do think Murray will make it, and we might see an interesting match against Raonic in the third round. I'm not so sure about Melzer, who suffered from back problems lately, and Nicolas Almagro might be a safer bet from that side of the quarter. Almagro just got through to the finals of the ATP 250 tournament in Nice, so he's definitely in good form, but might get to Paris a bit tired.
Anyway, I can see Murray making it through to another clay-court semifinal.

David Ferrer - Roger Federer
Assuming Federer gets past Feli Lopez (I might cry if I write it again), he shouldn't have any problems getting to the QF - the biggest threat in his section is Stan Wawrinka, and he's hardly a threat when playing his fellow Swiss. Ferrer is a bit more of a question at the moment, as he didn't play in Rome, and was out of Nice early enough, but I think he was more eager to get to Paris, so I wouldn't worry about him. He might meet one of a number of Frenchmen in the fourth round, most probably Gael Monfils (if he stays away from the cheese). Or maybe Philip Petzschner? In any case, I'm guessing that Federer will make his 53965294th Grand Slam Semifinal here.

(Photo by Reuters Pictures)

Tomas Berdych - Novak Djokovic
Berdych's section is another open part in the draw, the other seeds there being Garcia-Lopez, Cilic and Youzhny. I'm not sure who I think will make it to the QF here, Berdych is as good a prediction as any.
Djokovic's section, on the other hand is pretty packed. Gasquet, Bellucci, Del Potro - all had very good results in this clay season. So the big question will probably be: Can Del Potro stop the streak?
I've said it in a previous post - I'm not betting against Djokovic anymore. Of course, he'll lose at some point, but I'm not trying to guess when will that be. Que sera, sera.

So, to sum it up, I'm hoping for a top 4 semis (not going to happen, right?):
Nadal def. Murray
Djokovic def. Federer

Djokovic def. Nadal. 
We haven't seen enough of those lately ;)

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