Sunday, May 22, 2011

Roland Garros Men's Draw: What a win means for each of the top four?

Roland Garros is a mere 4 hours away and even though Philippe Chatrier Stadium was full to the brim on Saturday for an exhibition event that included the likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Tsonga, Rezai & Mauresmo, featured Bob Sinclair on the decks and briefly on the dirt, and fielded World Judo Champion, Teddy Riner; all eyes will be focused on the tennis and nothing but the tennis come Sunday 11:00 a.m.

Here's a quick preview of the men's draw:

The Rafa Quarter

Rafa comes to Paris this week in a very different position from where he was last year heading into the second Grand Slam of the year. As opposed to the perfect clay swing he had last season, the Spanish clay king has lost his last two finals on the red stuff in Rome and Madrid after winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Both losses came to the undefeated Djokovic and Nadal's form was pretty solid throughout the clay tournaments, so it's safe to say that Rafa fans should not really panic, considering he has only lost 1 match in 6 appearances at the French Open.

A victory in Paris for Rafa two weeks from today, could tie him with Bjorn Borg's record of 6 Roland Garros titles and it could also mean that Nadal gets to keep his number 1 ranking for at least another week, if Djokovic loses before the final.

A win could also put an end to Djokovic's unbeaten run in 2011, and could ignite the competition in the remaining 2 Slams of the season. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, here's a look at the players in Rafa's path this fortnight.

The world number 1 opens his title defense campaign against the towering John Isner. He could meet Nikolay Davydenko [28] in the third round, Fernando Verdasco [16], Juan Monaco or Sam Querrey [24] in the 4th round before a possible blockbuster quarterfinal against 2-time runner-up, Robin Soderling [5]. Although Soderling would have to overcome the likes of Gilles Simon [18] or Marcos Baghdatis [27] before booking that quarterfinal spot.

Fourth seed, Andy Murray could await Nadal in the semis, as well as last year's semifinalist, Jurgen Melzer [8].

Who else is hot in Rafa's quarter?

Jamaican/German, Dustin Brown, will be making his debut in Paris and opens against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
Mardy Fish [10], the latest addition to the world's top 10 also lurks in that quarter of the draw, opens against Brazilian Ricardo Mello.

The Murray Quarter

Who would've thought that Andy Murray would take a liking to clay? The Scot seems to be finally back on his feet following his post-Australian-Open-final slump. Two awesome performances against Nadal in Monte Carlo and Djokovic in Rome have reminded us all how brilliant the 24-year-old is and how sooner or later he will in fact rise to Grand Slam glory.

If Murray plans on making his mark on this French Open, he will have to get past French qualifier, Eric Prodon in the first round, possibly Milos Raonic [26] in the third round, Alexandr Dolgopolov [21] or Viktor Troicki [15] in the fourth round, before a potential clash with Melzer [8] in the quarters. Another quarterfinal opponent for Murray could be Nicolas Almagro [11], who comes to Paris fresh off his title win in Nice, his 3rd on clay in 2011.

Of course Rafa or Soderling are two potential semifinal opponents for Murray.

The Federer Quarter

I don't think Federer fans have ever really craved for a Slam victory for their man as much as they do right now. Simply because for the first time in FOREVER, the Swiss is not the holder of a Slam title. Even last year when people were in awe of Rafa's season, Federer still was holder of the Australian Open title and capped his season winning the Masters Cup.

Right now, will all eyes on Djokovic and Rafa, few are considering Federer as a main contender for the French Open title, which if anyone who knows anything about tennis knows that this has been proven to be a grave mistake.

The rule should be: always assume Federer will win until proven otherwise. Write it down folks!

Still am wondering, in what world does Federer have to face Feliciano Lopez in the first round of a Grand Slam. That F-Lopez is a slacker because he definitely plays like a seed, looks like a seed, and competes like a seed, so why the hell is he NOT one? Instead he's playing the world number 3 in the first round which sucks for the both of them, but probably more for the Spaniard.

The first seed in Federer's route could be the talented and smart, Janko Tipsarevic [29] in the third round. Fed's compatriot and Olympic doubles partner, Stanislas Wawrinka [14] or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [17] loom in the fourth round, while David Ferrer [7] or Gael Monfils [9] could play him in the quarters.

The draw could pit any of the following against Federer in the semis: Novak Djokovic [2], Juan Martin Del Potro [25], Richard Gasquet [13], Thomaz Bellucci [23] or Tomas Berdych [6].

The Djoko Quarter

Djokovic's lifelong dream has been to reach the number one in the world ranking spot. While other players may want to win a specific Grand Slam, or win a Gold medal at the Olympics, or dream of lifting the Davis Cup, Djokovic has always been clear on what he wants. He wants to be number 1. He said it when he was barely in the top 100 back in 2005. He said it when he won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami 2007, and he said it after he won his first Grand Slam in Melbourne in 2008. And now the Serb is ever so close to getting what he wants.

If he reaches the final, he gets the spot, regardless of anybody else's results.

In order to fulfill his lifelong dream, Djokovic who turns 24 today must surpass Thiemo De Bakker in the first round, possibly Del Potro [25] or Ernests Gulbis in the third round, Bellucci [23] or Gasquet [13] in the fourth round and Berdych [6] in the quarters. Djokovic's road to the semis is certainly a mine field and if he does make it to the last four, then Federer could stand between him and the #1 spot.

Some people are already picturing a 5th Rafa-Djoko final of the year on Philippe Chatrier, a fortnight away, but from the looks of this draw, I doubt that either player is looking past their first match.

1 comment:

Vyankatesh said...

If the two top seeds play in the finals, it will be a classic match.

Catch my thoughts at French Open 2011