Tennis News Wire -
Men's Look Forward: Roland Garros
At least the draw gods were fair. David Ferrer, who
probably ought to be the #4 seed at a clay slam, is in
the same quarter as Andy Murray, who has the actual #4
On the other hand, Roger Federer is in Novak Djokovic's half, which will make it that much harder for us to figure out who "should" be #2. That of course puts Murray in Nadal's half. Our potential quarterfinals are Djokovic versus #5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who is of course the top French player but whose game is best suited for faster surfaces). Federer's quarterfinal opponent would be his frequent nemesis, #7 Tomas Berdych. Murray of course would face Ferrer; Nadal's quarterfinal opponent would be #8 Janko Tipsarevic.
To get to the quarterfinal, Djokovic's route passes through Potito Starace in the first round (still a threat on clay, if nowhere else), #30 Jurgen Melzer in the third, and #14 Fernando Verdasco or #22 Andreas Seppi in the fourth. Nikolay Davydenko is also in that part of the draw -- he opens against Seppi -- but Davydenko really doesn't seem a threat right now.
Tsonga's first seeded opponent would be #30 Viktor Troicki (who, however, opens against Thomaz Bellucci). Then would come #11 Gilles Simon or #18 Stanislas Wawrinka -- both of whom like clay a lot better than Tsonga; if the Frenchman makes it that far, an upset seems not unlikely.
Federer could face David Nalbandian in the second round, but as a partial offset, he faces #26 Andy Roddick in the third, and Roddick is out of form and dislikes clay anyway. In the fourth, Federer would face #15 Feliciano Lopez (another guy who isn't too fond of clay) or #23 Radek Stepanek (tired after Dusseldorf).
The first seed Berdych would face would be #31 Kevin Anderson, who probably isn't a threat on clay -- but then comes #9 Juan Martin del Potro or #21 Marin Cilic. That part looks tough. It's tough for Del Potro and Cilic, too; the former opens against Albert Montanes; the latter faces Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round.
The same fate that put David Ferrer in Andy Murray's quarter also stuck the Spaniard with facing Albert Ramos in the second round, so the draw really was a mixed bag for him. In the third, he would face #27 Mikhail Youzhny. Potential fourth round opponents are #10 John Isner (probably not a threat to Ferrer on this surface) and #20 Marcel Granollers (who might be).
Andy Murray is drawn to face Jarkko Nieminen in the second round, #25 Bernard Tomic in the third, then #16 Alexandr Dolgopolov or #17 Richard Gasquet. A tough draw for a guy with a back problem and a clay problem both!
Julien Benneteau wasn't expected to play, but has has taken the #29 seed and will try. He would be the first seed to face Tipsarevic. The fourth round is likely to be tougher for Tipsarevic; the seeds are #12 Nicolas Almagro and #24 Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Juan Ignacio Chela is also in that part of the draw.
Defending champion Nadal's first three rounds are easy: #32 Florian Mayer would be the first seed he would face. It gets trickier in the fourth, when he might face #13 Juan Monaco or #19 Milos Raonic.
This, frankly, is going to be no fun at all.
The problem with this year's French Open is that it is being played a week later than last year. That means that we have two sets of events coming off -- not just Roland Garros 2011 but also Halle and Queen's 2011. The latter two both being popular events. Philipp Kohlschreiber won Halle, over Philipp Petzschner; Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych were semifinalists. The Queens title went to Andy Murray, over finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; James Ward was a shock semifinalist (and has never managed to back it up), with Andy Roddick being a less surprising semifinalist.
As for the results in Paris, Rafael Nadal was of course the winner. Roger Federer was the finalist, with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic the semifinalists. The quarterfinalists were Juan Ignacio Chela, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils, and Robin Soderling (who of course won't be playing); making the fourth round were Alejandro Falla, David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, Ivan Ljubicic (obviously not returning), Albert Montanes, Gilles Simon, Viktor Troicki, and Stanislas Wawrinka.
It won't matter at #1. With Nadal and Federer both defending big points, Djokovic is safe on top. On the other hand, it's a fairly close contest for #2, and with Nadal having more to defend, he absolutely has to outlast Federer to stay at #2. Andy Murray is so far back as to be practically out of the picture; he is safe at #4, but he has no real chance of climbing.
#5 Tsonga, #6 Ferrer, and #7 Berdych are close enough together that it's likely the one who lasts longest will be the new #5. Odds are that they will remain #5-#7 in some order.
Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Martin del Potro look likely to stay Top Ten, although their positions are not entirely secure. But the last Top Ton spot is very much up for grabs. John Isner, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Nicolas Almagro, Juan Monaco, and Fernando Verdasco are the obvious candidates to get it.
Chela and Fognini, especially the latter, are likely to lose their Top Fifty places. Robin Soderling can bid the Top Hundred goodbye.