An exciting tournament started today, it’s the second grand slam of the year, and for Tennis fans we’ll do a breakdown the favourites and their chances to win in the men’s draw. The 115th edition of Roland Garros already has had some surprises since two high profile players withdrew from tournament which also effected the seeding. World number three Roger Federer, who up til now has not missed a grand slam since 1999 has to pull out due to injury, and major French hopeful Gael Monfils also had to withdraw due to sickness. Despite being down a few good men, this ATP season continues to have a number of interesting story-lines and contenders.
Yes, he is the world number one, but his recent loss to Andy Murray and recent lack lustre performances has put some doubt on his being the one to beat. Before losing to Murray in Rome last week, Djokovic had only lost two sets to top ten players. That’s impressive, and he is boasting a win/loss record of 37-3, including five titles in 2016, many experts agree that the Serb is in outstanding form and will bounce back.
That confidence got him to five titles this year. And his win in Madrid, right before his loss in Rome, was arguably his most important recent win, since everyone knows he has set his sights on conquering the Parisian clay courts.
Everyone else also know that Roland Garros is the last obstacle Djokovic has to overcome in his pursuit of a career Grand Slam, something he definitely wants and undoubtedly deserves. But he has to get back on track and quick since Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei is waiting for Djokovic in the first round, and he has a collision course planned against seventh seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals if they both get through and remain unbeaten.
Who would think that someone like Murray, who only a season ago was so outspoken about his dislike of the clay court swing, is now beating the world’s best players on it. The Scottish lad arrived in Paris brimming full of confidence after getting a hard fought and won victory over Djokovic in straight sets, in the Italian Open final last week. Even if it is his first title of the season, Murray has gotten a lot of great results that always make his a legitimate threat.
In Madrid where Djokovic won, he beat clay court prince Rafael Nadal in dominating style. He also got to his fifth Australian Open final in January, and that established him as a regular contender in the grand slams.
If one looks at his recent form, 2016 could be the year he makes his first appearance in the Roland Garros final and even win it. It all depends on if he can carry that swagger over from Italy to France. But first Murray will have to face a yet to be determined qualifier, and could even meet fifth seed Kei Nishikori in what would be an exciting clash, and that could happen as early as the last eight finalists.
Tough but true for Wawrinka, he has not had an impressive year so far in the season. Even though he has two titles, they were against depleted draws and not true tests. If you look at him closely, the Swiss has not beaten a top 17 player so far this season. So beating some of the top seeds looks far off his radar.
Add to that his clay court season has also been nothing special, since he’s only won three out of his six matches. So overall it’s hard to see him reaching the sem-final or final. Despite that though, the Swiss had a similar slump last year. He was actually seeded eighth before he fought past Federer and played what many would argue,was the match of his life against Djokovic in the final to win his second grand slam title. Can he repeat? Probably not but we can expect the defending champion tag to help Wawrinka elevate his game.
With Federer out, Wawrinka is pushed up to third seed and will take on Lukas Rosol in his opening match. If he can win, he will then have to face off against the powerful Milos Raonic in the quarters, and that’s a another match up which could deter him from winning.
More recently a Prince rather than the ‘King of Clay’ as they once called him, has shown some glimpses of his former self on his beloved surface. He has won back-to-back titles at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona in April so he is building some momentum.
Nadal was able to improve a lot since his first round loss at the Australian Open back in January, and will be excited and eager to leave his mark at Court Philippe Chatrier, a court where he previously won nine Roland Garros titles. He will look to reclaim that glory again.
Before losing to Murray in the semi-finals in Madrid, Nadal was on a 13-win streak on the clay, having dropped only three sets. Those are worrying stats for his competitors but it might not be enough to get him to the final. The Spaniard will first have to beat big serving Sam Groth, and then will be on track for a quater-final match up against local hero and sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. That’s not an easy hill to climb.
The Japanese superstar has been playing an outstanding game and for a couple of seasons now has looked determined and maybe even destined to eventually win his first grand slam title.
Many experts think that the clay surface is one that suites his precision style of tennis. So he could pull off a few upsets especially of bigger names. He could easily be on course for a quarter-final with Murray, and will have to beat him if he wants to reach his second grand slam semi-final and win it.
In terms of actual results, Nishikori has just one title to his name for this season. He’s only dropped one set one his way to winning the Memphis open. On clay he has performed well, winning ten out of his lat 13 matches on the red stuff. Being ranked as the fifth seed, he will open his 2016 Roland Garros play considerably easily against Italy’s Simone Bolleli.
Many tennis think that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has impressed in the 2015 edition of the tournament by reaching the final four. He could repeat such a run since the Frenchman seems to save his best tennis for his home crowd, so the same can be expected this year. He’s always a good outside bet.
David Ferrer is another who got to the final at Roland Garros as recently as 2013. Typically he is a force to be reckoned with on the slower surface. He is also one of the few, like Wawrinka who played in Geneva last week.
Last but not least, Frenchman Richard Gasquet can defeat anyone on his good day, and will have the support and cheers from the partisan crowd which could take him further than usual.
Our Pick: Djokovic wins the elusive French Open