French Open 2009 Preview II

[1] Nadal vs Q
Kunitsyn vs Gabashvili
Gremelmayr vs Golubev
Hewitt vs [26] Karlovic

[23] Soderling vs Kim
Istomin vs Q
Q vs Kiefer
Gil vs [14] Ferrer

[10] Davydenko vs Koubek
Junqueira vs Capdeville
Massu vs Koellerer
Devilder vs [17] Wawrinka

[31] Almagro vs Calleri
Gulbis vs Querrey
Q vs Petzschner
Serra vs [8] Verdasco

[3] Murray vs Chela
Zverev vs Starace
Tipsarevic vs Montanes
Q vs [28] Lopez

[18] Stepanek vs Gaudio
Lu vs Q
Sela vs Q
Hernych vs [13] Cilic

[12] Gonzalez vs Q
Q vs Vliegen
Granollers vs Ouanna
Sidorenko vs [20] Safin

[30] Hanescu vs Darcis
Youzhny vs Muller
Q vs Kendrick
Odesnik vs [7] Simon

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[5] Del Potro vs Llodra
Troicki vs Q
Bellucci vs Vassallo Arguello
Q vs [25] Andreev

[21] Tursunov vs Clement
Santoro vs C Rochus
Baghdatis vs Monaco
Benneteau vs [9] Tsonga

[19] Robredo vs Mannarino
Korolev vs Gimeno-Traver
Garcia-Lopez vs Seppi
M Gonzalez vs [22] Fish

[29] Kohlschreiber vs Tomic
Ferrero vs Ljubicic
Dabul vs Q
Lapentti vs [4] Djokovic

[6] Roddick vs Joian
Hernandez vs Minar
Navarro vs Beck
Gicquel vs [27] Schuettler

[24] Melzer vs Roitman
Rufin vs Schwank
Q vs Q
Reynolds vs [11] Monfils

[15] Blake vs Q
Pavel vs Haas
Phau vs Chardy
Bolelli vs [19] Berdych

[32] Mathieu vs Recouderc
Ginepri vs Andujar
Acasuso vs Q
Martin vs [2] Federer

http://www.fft.fr/rolandgarros/tas/tas_hommes.htm

The much awaited French Open main draw is out so lets take a look at it. The first thing to look at of course is where Djokovic is, and unfortunately he is on Roger’s side. I would have preferred that he was on Rafa’s side, but it’s not the end of the world. Roger is now likely to meet Djokovic in the semi-final which gives him a chance to avenge some of the latest losses against Djokovic and gain some much needed confidence for the final. It may not be the ideal scenario for Roger but nevertheless it’s a potential encounter that I look forward to. When they met 0n clay in Rome Roger had a complete collapse and I can’t see it happening again. This is a grand slam and Roger will take a lot of confidence from his latest win against Rafa.

Should Roger vs Djokovic go into a fifth set I am not concerned either. Roger have been working very hard of late and he has never had much problems with fitness. He will also have a day to rest before the final which should be sufficient time to recover. Other then that Roger has a pretty good draw up until the semi-finals, with a potential repeat of last year’s semi-final against Gael Monfils in the quarter finals. Monfils has been nowhere of late though, I think he’s been injured. So really Roger has got to feel very good about his quarter of the draw, I don’t see anyone there giving him much trouble at all. Djokovic’s toughest challenge before the semi-finals will be either Juan Monaco or Juan-Martin Del Potro.

Looking at the top half of the draw you are looking at potential quarter final clashes between Murray and Fernando Gonzalez in the second quarter, and Rafa vs Verdasco in the top quarter. So without any further adue I will predict the possible results of the top ten contenders at Roland Garros this year.

  1. Rafa. Final or win. The Spaniard will be looking to become the first man to win five straight French Open titles after equalling Borg’s record last year. And who would bet against him doing it. He has had his most dominant clay court season to date and he goes into the French Open as the firm favorite. I can’t help but feel Roger is the only player who has a chance of beating him. Djokovic doesn’t stand much of a chance on the slow clay of Roland Garros in my opinion. The only other person who has a chance is Verdasco, but he would have to play the match of his life and Rafa would have to have an off day. Yet I can’t help but feel if anyone is going to beat Rafa at the French Open it will be this year. Despite his dominant clay court season I have just picked up a certain amount of self doubt from him. For the first time he appears to doubt his own abilities. He his now in uncharted territory, looking to be the first man to beat Borg’s record. He knows if he can pull it off he will almost certainly be considered the best clay courter ever, so the pressure is on him. The big fuss he made over the conditions in Madrid before Roland Garros and the way he went down in he final against Roger in Madrid makes me think this is the first year he will be vulnerable and Roger must take advantage.
  2. Roger. Final or win. Reaching the final for the past three years Roger will be the favorite to do so again. If he had not won in Madrid I would have strongly doubted his chances to get past Djokovic, but after he beat Rafa in convincing manner and improving with every tournament during the clay court season I see him being in the final for a fourth straight year. Can he win his first title at Roland Garros and complete the career grand slam? Yes, but he will have to be at his very best and use a similar game plan as he did in Madrid. He may just have gotten into Rafa’s mind with that win and if he can keep the momentum we just might have a new French Open champion for the first time in five years. He must take advantage of Rafa’s vulnerability the way only he can.
  3. Djokovic. Semi-final. Djokovic has had a very solid clay court season and he is playing his best clay court tennis yet. He is extremely consistent off the ground and his results show it. Therefor I simply don’t see him losing before the semi-finals. Del Potro or Monaco will be tough opponents but I don’t see him losing to them. In the semi-finals I don’t see him getting past Roger though. Roger seems almost destined to break through this year and I don’t see him allowing Djokovic to get in his way. Having said that it will be a very interesting match and could go into five sets.
  4. Verdasco. Quarter final. Verdasco is the dark horse of the tournament. If anyone can cause an upset it is him. He actually said recently in the media that he is going to Roland Garros to win the tournament. He hasn’t been able to repeat the form that saw him take Rafa to five tough sets at the Australian Open, yet he has been very consistent. The only problem with Verdasco is that he is mentally fragile in big matches. He does all kinds of silly things when the pressure is on. It’s a shame he is not in Andy Murray’s quarter of the draw, I would have loved to see him make the semi-finals. Either way if he produces some of that form he showed in the first slam of the year you never know what this talented individual can pull off.
  5. Gonzalez. Semi-final. Fernando Gonzalez chose to skip the Masters Series events in Monte Carlo and Madrid, yet he still made semi finals of both Rome and Barcelona. Gonzalez is always a dangerous player and he has got one of the most favorable draws up to the semi-finals. But then again anyone who was in Murray’s quarter of the draw was always gonna have a decent draw. He has got some tests against the likes of Safin, Simon and Murray along the way, but that shouldn’t deter him from making his first semi-final at Roland Garros. It has to be said that the third quarter of the draw is the most open of the four quarters but nonetheless I’m gonna go with Gonzalez to go through.
  6. Monaco. Fourth round or quarter finals. Juan Monaco is another player who has had a consistent clay court season and he is likely to meet Del Potro in the round of sixteen. This should be a tough match and it’s hard to predict who will prevail, therefor fourth round or quarter finals.
  7. Del Potro. Fourth Round or quarter finals. See ‘Monaco’.
  8. Monfils. Quarter finals. Monfils in probably in the easiest eighth of the draw and even though he has been out I have favored him over Andy Roddick. Roddick has shown that he has improved on clay by taking R0ger to three sets in Madrid, yet Roger wasn’t very impressive on that day and Monfils will have home crowd advantage. He also knows he can go deep in the tournament after making the semi-finals last year.
  9. Davydenko. Third or fourth round. While Monfils is in the easiest eighth of the draw, Davydenko, Wawrinka and Verdasco are in the hardest one. Davydenko was out with injury before the clay court season and hasn’t been at his best since, but he has always been a threat at Roland Garros. He could beat Wawrinka but I see Verdasco being too strong for him this year.
  10. Murray. Fourth round or quarter finals. I’m not sure if Murray is in the top ten clay courters in the world but he is number three in the world, so I thought I’d slip him in at number ten. He is in the easiest quarter of the draw so he got lucky.

Note: Another player who deserves a mention is Stanislas Wawrinka who is a very good clay court player and could beat Davydenko in the third round. But once again I give Verdasco the edge over him should he go through. Also David Ferrer could be in the top ten best clay courters in the world but he got a tough draw, meeting Rafa in the third round.

So there you go, those are my predictions. And it is just predictions, not facts by any means. Tennis is unpredictable and upsets happen. Having said that the top players in the men’s game are very consistent and I expect three of the top four players to still be there come semi-final time. Will Andy Murray be there as well? Given his forunate draw it is possible but really he isn’t in the top four in the world on clay.  I don’t know about you but I am very much looking forward to this year’s French Open. And not in the least because Roger seemed to have made a turning point. From what he said in the media after the Madrid match things sound promising. Saying that he realized he has to play attacking tennis against his main rivals bodes very well indeed for his chances to finally break through.

Destiny beckons…


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5 Comments

  1. Realize all comments one reads are predictions, yours, is more positive for Roger. Just reading Pete Bodo’s prediction on Tennis.com is the opposite, Federer will not reach the Final. What are your thoughts on the conditions of RG, PB seems to emphasize this greatly? Would like your response to his predictions. Thanks, Ru-an

    [Reply]

  2. I just read his predictions and i had a good laugh. Montanes in the semi-finals? Roger not even in the semi-finals losing to Mathieu? Well i guess you gotta do something to make people read your stuff! Me on the other hand, i like to get readers by writing sense. No offense to Peter Bodo but i think hes got it wrong big time on this occasion. I realize my predictions are positive for Roger but to say Roger wont even make the semi-final being in the easiest quarter of the draw is bordering on sillyness. If he should lose it will be either to Djokovic or Rafa. If he loses to anyone else it would be a huge shock to me. Hope that helps :-)

    Ps. Just because Roger hasnt made the final the last three years isnt a credible reason in my mind for him not to make it again. If im wrong i will accept it but it looks unlikely in my view. I dont see him lsoing before the semis and against Djokovic he is 2-1 on clay and 3-1 in grand slams, only losing when he had mono. So i think he will win but it should be a great match to watch nonetheless. I really hope they meet.

    [Reply]

  3. Its just amazing how Pete and Steve forgot what they wrote a week ago. Both of them praise Roger’s resurgence during Madrid’s final. A week later, both agreed that Federer won’t even get past quarters/semis. Either they intend to draw out readers to post comments on Federer’s route or just plain forgetful. They seems to forget how consistent Federer is in GS even with mono last year! Their analysis irritates me but I think is good for Federer in a way. Now, he can go about his business quietly. I was rewatching Madrid match again last week, Federer looks calmer than before since he loss at AO. If he remains calm throughout 2 weeks of ‘french madness’, he might get a really fair shot in winning RG. If he wins (I hope he does), I will stand corrected being pessimistic of his chances.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Dippy, I didnt read Steve Tignor’s article who i am assuming you are referring to. But i did read John Wartheim from SI article and he said Roger will be tested by Alberto Martin! Seeing these kind of predictions i am sure these people are doing to get people to come back and comment. They make money from people clicking on their ads and the more time they spend on the page the more they will click. Its like you said, Roger comes to play in the grand slams. Since when do you say someone will be upset before the semi-final when they have made 19 GS semi-finals or better?! And that after he beat Rafa in convincing manner in Madrid. Also saying Montanes will make semi-finals is a very bold prediction. The guy has Murray, Gonzalez, Stepanek and Simon in his quarter and has never been past the tird round of a grand slam! Anyway if these guys are trying to get poeple to come back and comment they are doing a good job. Even i made two comments. I told them what i think of their propaganda though. I made a prediction saying Montanes will lose in the third round and Roger will win the tournament. LOL! I only have two comments so far but at least i can live with myself and i can respond to every comment. Those guys just make unrealistic predictions and leave their readers to stew in the confusion. Its all about money for them while for me its about integrity and doing something i enjoy.

    [Reply]

    Dippy Reply:

    Controversy sells eh, so much for honest journalism. Well I hope both your predictions come true. I must say your assessment is fair and just. I will watch with glee when Federer gets his championship point at RG

    [Reply]

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