Roland Garros Preview – Les Hommes
by Abe Kuijl | May 25th, 2007, 11:48 am

Roland Garros Previews – Les Hommes

The draws are out, the players are in Paris. It’s time for the previews.

Top Quarter

Roger Federer reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2005, when the mighty Swiss fell to Rafael Nadal. In 2006, he was beaten by the Spaniard in the final. Can Federer do one step better again this year and claim the ‘Coupe des Musquetaires’? After his win in Hamburg, it is not Nadal but Federer who heads into Paris with a winning streak on dirt.

The top seed will start off his campaign against American Michael Russell, who in 2001 led Gustavo Kuerten in their fourth round encounter 2-0 in sets and a break in the third, before he fell in a dramatic five setter. This inspired Guga to draw his famous heart in the red clay.

Federer should breeze through to the quarters where he’s scheduled to meet Tommy Robredo, whom he leads 7-0 in career meetings, two of which have come on clay. Oddly enough, Federer’s two biggest wins against the Spaniard were the ones on dirt. First in Rome ’03, 6-1 6-1, and second in Hamburg ’05, 6-2 6-3. Federer straight-setted Robredo in this year’s Australian Open quarterfinal and, judging by their record, should advance fairly easily in Paris as well.

Semi-final pick: Roger Federer

Second Quarter

The second quarter of the draw is where the action is at. Nikolay Davydenko (4), Fernando Gonzalez (5), Richard Gasquet (11), David Nalbandian (15), Juan Ignacio Chela (18), Guillermo Canas (19), Jurgen Melzer (27) and Nicolas Almagro (32) are the seeds in this section, with Melzer being the odd man out. The others are all capable of beating each other and advancing to the semi-finals. But, there are also some dangerous floaters around, who could mess things up a little. First of all, there’s local hero Gael Monfils, who seems to be playing himself back in form this week in Poertschach, taking out Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt en route to the final, where he’ll face Juan Monaco on Saturday. The Argentine can also be found in this quarter, as well as his compatriot Jose Acasuso.

If you had asked me before the start of the clay court season who to pick from this section of the draw, I would have put my money on Canas. However, since his run to the final in Miami, Canas has broken down a little, perhaps overplaying himself. He made the final of Barcelona, losing to Nadal, but has been bothered with minor injuries since. A week ago in Hamburg, Canas was beaten by in-form compatriot Chela in the first round. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canas was the one to come out of this quarter, in which case, he has a real chance against Roger Federer to make the final, but I’m not favoring him anymore.

I don’t think Fernando Gonzalez will reach the semi-finals either. The Chilean made the last eight at Roland Garros in 2003 but hasn’t advanced past the third round in five other attempts.

Nicolas Almagro could be a future Roland Garros semi-finalist, but I find the 20-year-old Spaniard to still be a little reckless at times.

I am favoring Nikolay Davydenko to come through here, judging from his performance in Rome. The Russian played some great tennis in his matches against Robredo, Starace and especially Nadal and looks a solid pick for the semi’s if he brings his A-game.

Semi-final pick: Nikolay Davydenko

Third Quarter

On paper, this is third-seeded Andy Roddick’s quarter, but we all know better. The draw wasn’t easy on the No.1 American, who will take on Igor Andreev in the first round. The Russian has found his form over the past weeks, coming back from a long injury lay-off in 2006. Roddick on the other hand is a mere 2-2 on clay this year. I’m picking Mr. Kirilenko in this one.

Novak Djokovic is undoubtedly the player to watch for in this section. The sixth-seeded Serb reached the quarterfinals in 2006 when he retired trailing 2-0 in sets to Rafael Nadal, but Nole has a golden opportunity to advance to his first ever Grand Slam semi-final here in Paris. Igor Andreev, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Marcos Baghdatis are shaping up as likeliest quarterfinal opponents. Djokovic couldn’t have wished for a better draw.

Semi-final pick: Novak Djokovic

Fourth Quarter

Rafael Nadal headlines the fourth and final quarter of the draw. It looks very likely Rafa will meet Lleyton Hewitt again in the fourth round, just like he did last year. The Aussie may have gotten close in their semi-final meeting in Hamburg last week, but Nadal will not be fatigued anymore by now and should not drop more than a set against the 14th seed.

In the other section of this quarter, there is some hope for the American fans, as James Blake’s draw is looking quite promising. Blake will start against Croatian bomber Ivo Karlovic and has either Jonas Bjorkman or Peter Luczak in round two. Can we say third round lock? Probably not, but Blake will be very dissappointed if he doesn’t get through these matches. From there on, it’ll be either Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany or Oscar Hernandez. If Blake doesn’t get to face the Spaniard, he has a very good chance of making the fourth round, in which case he’ll square off against Tomas Berdych. The Czech has been playing well lately and has beaten Blake on clay in Davis Cup, but he would not be a bad match-up for the 8th seed.

Anyhow, there’s only one pick for this quarter.

Semi-final pick: Rafael Nadal

Federer – Davydenko

This is turning out to become a dream draw for the Swiss. First he gets to beat Robredo for the eighth time in as many career meetings, now he faces a man whom he is leading 8-0 head to head.

Pick: Federer

Nadal – Djokovic

Novak Djokovic was beaten soundly by Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of Rome, but he looked fatigued from winning in Estoril the week before. I think Djokovic has the ability to play Nadal tough on any surface, but I can’t see Rafa losing to his younger opponent at Roland Garros… yet.

Pick: Nadal

Federer – Nadal

Yes, I’m going with the Federer – Nadal final and I believe Rafa will win his third straight title in Paris. He has never been beaten at Roland Garros and is a whopping 27-0 in best of five set matches on clay. Like I said in my analysis of the Hamburg final earlier this week, his loss to Federer in Germany was mainly because he was drained from winning in Rome the week before and having played so much over the past weeks. Now that he’s recharged the batteries, I don’t see anyone taking three sets from Nadal on clay.

Champion: Nadal

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26 Comments for Roland Garros Preview – Les Hommes

funches Says:

Hey, new material. Maybe I should edit the post I just made on the message board.

hewitt come onnnnn Says:

OH man this is nice preveiw…thanks about it…may be Hewitt is unlucky to be scheduled to meet Nadal in 4th round …i hope he can give Nadal a good fight..and he has a chance… and if nadal and federer met will meet in the final …i hope Rog. will upset Rafa.

Ecublens Says:

I agree with you that the draw is very good for Federer, don’t understand very well Reuter’s news release…

But, unlike you, I’m more pessimistic for Rafa. I don’t think he will make it against Hewitt, and if he does, he will be too tired for the rest of the competition… Especially for a finale against Roger.

Just my $0.02

zola Says:

Go Abe,
all the way with you and your picks!

I hope your predictions come true.

Also have to add that you are such a great addition to this website. keep writing.

Abe Kuijl Says:

Thanks Zola. I appreciate that.

Women’s preview coming up later.

zola Says:

Hewitt just lost to Monfils . He will be more tired than Rafa coming to RG. Rafa was very tired against him and Fed. If Hewitt can defeat Rafa in FO, then the crown is his.

ckr Says:

If Djokovic plays with little patience,I like his chances against Nadal.

Interesting... Says:

I don’t think it’s quite that straightforward.

Nadal reaching finals seems more likely than Federer doing so. But Federer is pure genius adept at surprising naysayers.

Federer may well be out in the first round itself or he may indeed lift the trophy. It’s rather uncertain.

But the completion of the Roger Slam at Roland Garros will gladden my heart very much. So, I hope that Federer unleashes his genius to the full at realises his destiny at last. It should have happened a year ago, still, better late than never.

penise Says:

I second the praise for Abe; his column has me reading this site again.

I would like see Monfils make a run. We all thought he was headed for Top 5 and he has sputtered out. Too bad.

Alfredo Nieto Says:

Good read.
I agree with the article, However I am really hoping that this will be Federer’s year.
There is something about this kid that we have not seen yet I think.
And I think it will show up in Roland Garros this year.
Godd luck Roger.

beerme Says:

yeah i agree, nadal over fed, just hope it happens it would be good for tennis.

FoT Says:

beerme… Stop saying that it would be “good for tennis”. If Nadal beats Fed it might be ‘good for you’…but don’t speak for the entire ‘tennis world’. Roger all the way!!!!

ja_obryab Says:

I agree with most of it, Abe, but I think Guillermo Canas will upset Federer in the semis and take on Nadal in the championship, where he will lose.

Jimbo Says:

That really sucks that Guillermo Canas isn’t in the same quarter of the draw as Roger Federer. It means that he’ll have to beat three top 15 guys; Richard Gasquet, Fernando Gonzalez, and then Nikolay Davydenko, just to get another shot at him(Federer) in the SF. I don’t think he can do it, but I hope to dear jesus that he can.
Please jesus, Canas vs Nadal in the final!

Potro Says:

I hope Juan Martin del Potro eliminates Nadal in the first round. That is just what the French Open needs. Nadal was exciting for some time but he’s too boring. If he had an ounce of Federer’s genius, he would have been watchable. But his gay gigolo looks are becoming nauseous now. Aack!

samps Says:

Good article Abe and the picks are spot on. Fed has the easiest draw in all the quarters clearly. This is surely the best shot he’s ever going to get to win French. I dont think Canas is going to make it past Nikolai though I hope he does.

Potro, ur a moron. Period.

The “good for tennis” comment is understandably inane; just like the “what the French Open needs” comment as stated by the previous moron. Though I hope Rafa whups Fed and settles the stupid “Roger Slam” talk once and for all.

Potro Says:

Poor Rafa, all tired from his relatively worthless wins in the run-up to Roland Garros. He’s not even going to face Federer because Federer will be in finals and Rafa will be eliminated in the 1st round itself. That’s what happens when you concentrate on buffing your muscles instead of improving your tennis skills.

And Samps, you having periods now? Don’t worry, menopause is around the corner and you won’t have to anymore. Just go on humping yourself on Rafa’s pictures. Hehe

Maybe Rafa will be so disappointed after his 1st round loss that he will restrict himself to stripping at gay bars from now on. Fingers crossed!

samps Says:

Potro, im really sorry, I misjudged you. You arent a moron at all, just someone in need of help. I do pity you. I can understand its hard for you when you are unsure of ur sexuality and all you have as a way out are pathetic slurs. Dont worry, I sympathize.

And I also see that your IQ is around 40 (below 80 is somewhat considered abnormal though dont worry, im not judging). I dont suppose Rafa’s muscles have changed much since he was 19. And he’s won 2 RGs and made the final of wimby once. And an irrlevalant streak of 81 matches of course.

And ur so funny! I didnt get the “period” “gag” for a moment. I initially thought you were out of a mental health facility but it turns out ur just stupid. Ok then.

Tennis fan Says:

Samps and Potro, you are both two sides of the same coin and deserve each other. Disgusting!

Neanderpaul Says:

Nice preview Abe! Good to see you at Tennix-X … great site. Best of luck!


realist Says:

if federer doesn’t win this year he never will. this is the easiest draw i think i’ve ever seen. i mean both his 4th and quarter round seeds are out of form, how lucky can you be.

the 2nd quarter is way lopsided. definitely the toughest section, with every in form claycourter( besides rafa)…so who ever gets through, you can be sure they’ll be playing pretty good tennis.

so i think there’s quite a good chance the other semi finalist could take out federer, unless they’re too fatigued by that time.

claycourtrafa Says:

if rafa wins and i think he will…i mean i dunno i think it might just be too much for federer this year, i think it will be harder on him to make the finals and lose to nadal then to go out in the first.

Leon Says:

I don’t get your comment ‘claycourtrafa’, but I’m strongly going for Rafa to win the title

Jimbo Says:

Nadal’s draw is looking much better. Suffer Blake, Roddick, and Gonzalez

FloridaMan Says:

I too am strongly going with Nadal to win the French Open. He will most likely not play the way he did in Hamburg, the next time he plays Federer. He will make far less unforced errors, and will probably be playing at his best, or close to his best, unlike in Hamburg. Therefore, when he’s playing at or near his best, Federer cannot beat him.

Billow Says:

Why aren’t there any more comments? gotta keep it flowing fellas

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