Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paris, Je T'Aime - My French Picks

So the French Open kicks off today, and I am super excited. The draw came out on Friday and from the first glance, I knew it was a bit harsh on Rafa. But let's do this the right way and take the draw from the top.

1st Quarter

If we're just looking at numbers, one would say we'd have a Federer-Gasquet quarterfinal, but I truly doubt that's gonna happen. Gasquet is on a horrible run this season. With his only success coming in doubles, the Frenchman has only won a single match on clay this season against Kristof Vliegen in Monte Carlo. Having said that, I think recent entrant to the world's top 10, Stanislas Wawrinka (seeded 9th), or Russian number 3, Igor Andreev (seeded 27th), have a better chance of making the quarters.

2nd Quarter

Okay, I think the second quarter of the draw should go with the numbers, with Davydenko (seeded 4th) and Ferrer (seeded 5th) on either side of it. Possible obstacles for Davydenko would be, former top 5 rival, Ljubicic (seeded 28th), fellow Russian, Marat Safin, or former world number one, Juan Carlos Ferrero (seeded 23rd).

Ferrer would possibly have to tackle the likes of Lleyton Hewitt (seeded 25th), Tommy Robredo (seeded 12th) or Radek Stepanek (seeded 21st).

Possible yet far-fetched surprises could come from home favorites, Gilles Simon or Gael Monfils.

3rd Quarter (The walk in the park!)

The third quarter is home of world number 3, Novak Djokovic, one of the top contenders for the title. I don't see anyone who could stop Djokovic from reaching the semis at the French Open this year.

Apart from a tricky first round match against Germany's Denis Gremylmayr, who has had 2 surprise runs to the semis in Estoril and Barcelona, Djokovic should be able to cruise to the quarters.

Djokovic's possible quarterfinal opponent could be seventh seeded James Blake, but my personal pick would be Janko Tipsarevic (seeded 32). Who would have thought we'd get to a point in men's tennis where 2 Serbs would faceoff for a spot in the semis?!?!

Janko or Blake could find some resistance from Berdych (seeded 11), who was injured recently which brings his fitness into question.

Djokovic could meet Canas (seeded 29), Moya (seeded 16) or rising star, Eduardo Schwank, before he reaches the quarters. Schwank has caused a recent buzz on the circuit as he managed to capture 3 challenger titles before he came through the qualies at Roland Garros. So he's definitely one to watch this tournament. Who knows, maybe he's the coming Nalbandian?!?! Oh, did I mention he's from Argentina and is Nalbandian's brother's protégé??!

4th Quarter (Home of the Reigning King)

Rafa's quarter is just filled with mines, who could explode any second. On the opposite side of his quarter he has sixth-seeded Nalbandian. If Nalbandian doesn't make it to the quarters, Rafa could face Andy Murray or clay-court specialist Almagro.

In order for Rafa, to make it to the quarters himself, he has to overcome speedbumps like Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Verdasco, Jarko Nieminen or his good friend, Feliciano Lopez.

Poor Rafa has to dig really deep if he plans on grabbing a fourth straight French Open title.

If no surprises happen, I'd say the top 4 players reaching the semis is not a long shot. Who knows?!?! I'm just psyched it's all starting today :)

Sunday's Order of Play

On Philippe Chatrier starting 11a.m. Paris Time:

1 Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) v. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)[2]

followed by
2 Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Denis Gremelmayr (GER) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB)[3]

3 Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Gustavo Kuerten (BRA) v. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)[18] (This is Guga's farewell)

4 Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Julia Vakulenko (UKR) v. Alize Cornet (FRA)[19]

On Suzanne Lenglen:

1 Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
David Nalbandian (ARG)[6] v. Carlos Berlocq (ARG)

followed by
2 Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Virginie Razzano (FRA)[24] v. Klara Zakopalova (CZE)

3 Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Jonathan Eysseric (FRA) v. Andy Murray (GBR)[10]

4 Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Serena Williams (USA)[5] v. Ashley Harkleroad (USA)

For the rest of the schedule, check :

Cheers and Vamos Rafa!!!

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