Sunday, May 23, 2010

French Open: Men's Preview

World no. 1 Roger Federer will try to keep his hopes of a calendar year Grand Slam hopes alive by defending his French Open title. The road will not be easy for him with a possible second round match with Janko Tipsarevic and third round match with Feliciano Lopez. It gets harder still in the fourth round where he might face fellow compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka or 13th seed hometown boy Gael Monfils. The quarterfinal is full of threats with two players who have beaten Federer on clay recently, Ernest Gulbis and Albert Montanes, lurking as well as top ten seeds Marin Cilic and Robin Soderling. The latter would be a rematch of last year's finals.

Struggling 4th seed Andy Murray is on the same side as the Swiss Maestro and might have the easiest draw out of the top four seeds. Unfortunately, Murray is also the most vulnerable on this surface and must contend with a red-hot Richard Gasquet in the first round with the Frenchman recently winning a title in France, on clay. In terms of clay-court specialists, this quarter doesn't have much, although one could never count out any Spanish players especially seeded Tommy Robredo and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The player that might get out of this quarterfinal may just be 8th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or a complete surprise. What do we think of 17th seed John Isner's chances?

On the other end of the draw, former semifinalist and 3rd seed Novak Djokovic is in the same quarter as 6th seed Andy Roddick. Roddick hasn't played a single clay-court tournament and probably has zero expectations for this slam event, while Djokovic will be hungry to disturb the Nadal-Federer dominance. If healthy, Djokovic should cruise to the fourth round where he'll likely meet 16th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero. His potential quarterfinal opponent is 9th seed David Ferrer.

Four-time champion and undisputed clay court king Rafael Nadal will try to dust off his shocking early exit the year before en route to re-claiming this title. Based on current form and known skills, no one looks to bother him all the way through the quarterfinals even with the possibility of going head-to-head with Lleyton Hewitt and 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic. Things get less easy after that with potential match-ups with 7th seed Fernando Verdasco, 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez, or 19th seed Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Rafael Nadal d. David Ferrer

Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer

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