Saturday, May 22, 2010

Storylines at the French Open

The summer slam season is upon us. On Sunday, tennis fans are all focused on Roland Garros for the official start of the second Grand Slam event of the season, the French Open. And like every tournament, there are story lines afoot...

- Can anyone beat Rafael Nadal? Oh sure, he lost in the fourth round last year and has been hampered with injuries, but you wouldn't know it if you've been paying attention to the clay season so far. This year he went undefeated winning three Masters titles. He also has a dominant 31-1 record in Roland Garros including four championship titles. Based on form and logic, he's the man to beat. Then again, we said this last year, too, didn't we?

- Who will be number 1? Three men have a chance to be number one in the rankings after the tournament. Defending champion, Roger Federer has to reach his 24th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal if he wants to retain his current top ranking. If he does, he will also surpass Pete Sampras' record of total weeks at number one. If Nadal wins the entire tournament and Federer loses before the semifinals, he's the new number one. World no. 3 Novak Djokovic could jump to number one only if he wins the tournament and Federer falls before the quarterfinals.

- Which lady baller will win? Based on current clay form, no one knows. The WTA tour has been more erratic than not the past few weeks with no one player looking dominant. Top ranked Serena Williams has played one tournament since winning the Australian Open while her second ranked sister, Venus Williams, is not known for her clay results. Recent champions, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic, are not in-form while four-time champion Justine Henin could be a threat, but only time will tell. With all the craziness, however, I'd look to a surprise (and maybe first-time) winner. Watch out for top ten players such as Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, and Agnieska Radwanska. Dinara Safina, last year's finalist, has struggled, but why not her as well, right?

- What is up with all of the withdrawals and injuries? Last year's US Open champions, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin Del Potro, are out with injuries. The latter expected to be out until after the US Open! Among the wounded and have also withdrawn are Gilles Simon, James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, Sania Mirza, Carlos Moya, Ivo Karlovic, Urszula Radwanska, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Sabine Lisicki, Igor Andreev, and Tommy Haas. And we're not even halfway to the tennis season! Yikes.

A look into the men's and women's draws later this weekend.

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