Nadal, Djokovic French Open Favorites, But Face Dangerous Draws
by Sean Randall | May 20th, 2011, 11:14 am
  • 110 Comments

The best rivalry in tennis moves to Grand Slam play starting Sunday. Even though Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are opposite ends of the draw, the odds are that they’ll meet the first Sunday in June. And that match would have a ton on the line.

But first, there are six rounds of tennis to be played on the slow, red clay at Roland Garros and we could very well see a twist or two, even with Nadal and Djokovic.

The draw, which I think is nicely balanced, thankfully does provide our two favorites, Nadal and Novak, with some potential problems so it won’t be a walkthrough.

Right from the get go Nadal begins his title defense against American big man John Isner. On any other surface this could be a tricky match, but on clay Rafa should roll. Nadal could face a more serious obstacle in Nikolay Davydenko in the third round. The Russian may be on the downslope of his career but he has had his way with Nadal winning four straight, losing just one set in those matches. If Rafa survives, he could get the hot/old like cold Fernando Verdasco with a possible quarterfinal showdown/rematch with Robin Soderling.

Once again, Andy Murray has to be thrilled with his quarter. Murray has consecutive qualifiers before running into Milos Raonic. If things go accordingly, Murray could face his toughest test in Nicolas Almagro or Jurgen Melzer in the quarterfinals. Talk about a great draw. Things could have been a lot worse for the Scot.

In the bottom half, Federer begins with Feliciano Lopez in a rematch of the Spaniard’s choke job from last month. Otherwise, the Swiss should breeze through a potential collision with Stan Wawrinka (or Tsonga) in the fourth round before David Ferrer in the quarters. Janko Tipsarevic looms but clay isn’t the Serb’s best surface. And while Wawrinka is adept on the dirt, can he really take out his national hero at a Slam?

It’s a good thing Djokovic’s confidence is sky high because he’ll need it to navigate a tough final quarter. Djokovic will put his 39-match win streak on the line against a dangerous Thiemo de Bakker and then in the third round he could clash in a monster match up with Juan Martin Del Potro. The Serb then could meet to talented Richard Gasquet who’s been playing well before another match against a dangerous big man with Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Remember, this is the first Slam that Novak will be under the public eye as a favorite to win.

The quarterfinals by seeding have Nadal v Soderling. Murray v Melzer, Ferrer v Federer and Berdych v Djokovic.

As I said, it’s a good draw overall and with the two danger players, Soderling and Delpo, in the Nadal and Djokovic sections it should make for some good drama and potential plot twists. That said, you still have to pick Nadal and Djokovic to come through based on just how well they are playing. But we could and likely will see some upsets along with way, it’s just a question of who can avoid them.

And if Federer wants to get back into the mix, the draw he’s got could be a launching pad leading into Wimbledon. While Djokovic has been dominant, he hasn’t done it against Federer so I give the Swiss some hope should he meet Novak in that semifinal.

Play begins on Sunday. I’ve have my picks out in the next 36 hours.


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Federer Gets Easy French Open Draw; Nadal, Djokovic in Same Half

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110 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic French Open Favorites, But Face Dangerous Draws

Rick Says:

“While Djokovic has been dominant, he hasn’t done it against Federer so I give the Swiss some hope should he meet Novak in that semifinal.”

How hasn’t Djoko done it against Federer when he crushed him at Indian Wells in the semifinal and again in a 3-set GS event in Australia? Not to mention a third time at Dubai final…seem pretty biased again Sean getting Fedtards hopes up. Thought you finally turned the corner and left your fed cheerleading days behind you …


jane Says:

Well, maybe it will be a Muzza versus Federer final?! Maybe Andy M will win his first slam at the FO.

Djoko’s draw is kind of brutal, imo. Delpo in the 3rd round? Couldn’t be worse. Nadal has Soda, but Rafa handled him fine in the final last year. Maybe Rafa isn’t playing as well as last year (not sure) but neither has Soda been. And Davy’s been a dud through the clay season other than in Munich.

As we have seen many times, however, the draw shifts and twists and things don’t always play out the way we expect, so fingers crossed that Nole’s opens up.


El Flaco Says:

Fed beating Djokovic in the semis would be a dream come true for Nadal.


marko Says:

I’m sorry Sean, I usually like your posts very much, but I have to disagree with you entirely here. I don’t think the draw is balanced at all. I mean, with Ferrer, Delpo, Federer, Berdych, and even Monfils, and Gasquet all in Djokovic’s half it really seems like his draw is much more brutal than Nadal’s.

And I believe my opinion is supported by the fact that the odds-makers have adjusted their odds since this morning by lowering Nadal’s odds and raising Djokovic’s.


marko Says:

I mean, I understand that Djokovic won’t have to play all of them, but this draw pretty much guarantees that Djokovic will be facing dangerous opponents at almost every round, while the same can’t be said for Nadal.

But that’s ok, if Djokovic wins, the draw will just make his victory all the more impressive.


madmax Says:

El Flaco,

Fed has to get through the first round first of all and that is all he will be thinking about.

Whose to say that either rafa OR novak are going to make it that far, let alone roger?

It’s probably the most open french open ever, despite rafa being the favourite (he is always the favourite, how couldn’t he be?).

Novak is playing brilliantly and on paper, yes, these two should meet in the final –

Federer fans live in eternal hope that one day, Fed will repeat the glory he had at the FO in 2009, but it kind of doesn’t matter so much now. Tennis is the best it has ever been. Murray is playing better on clay than ever before, I believe he really has a chance against rafa. It will be tough, but I think the more experience Murray gains, the stronger he will become. It may even be novak against murray.

First round though Fed has gotta get his clinical head on. Easy first round this is NOT.


jane Says:

The ATP is already hyping a possible Nole vs. Delpo third round with a “Will Delpo be the one to Derail Nole?” headline.


dari Says:

Faster Babolat balls and dry warm weather are speeding up things a bit according to RG website.
It will always come down to who is playing best, but this another element to change things up from last year.


dari Says:

Yeah, I’m not sure what you mean by “novak still hasn’t done it against federer”
I’m still giving Rog a chance though!


C!P! Says:

you all forget Bellucci ,who almost defeated Djoko back in Madrid, he is in the same quarter with the serb


jane Says:

Bellucci cannot meet Nole before the 4th round and I think he would have to beat Gasquet first, assuming they both get that far. Gasquet is playing well.

Interesting news about RG playing faster dari. I thought is was playing faster last year, too, for some reason, but the weather certainly wasn’t warm and dry!


Eric Says:

Nadal’s draw is just as bad as Djokovic’s. Yes, Nole has all those guys in his half, but look at who he can actually meet…

Delpo, Karlovic, Gulbis – he can only meet one.
Bellucci, Gasquet – he can only meet one.
Berdych, Cilic, Youzhny – he can only meet one.
Federer, Wawa, Monfils, Ferrer – he can only meet one.

It’s a tough draw, but it’s not that tough. He has a very safe first two rounds, followed by (presumably) Del Potro, then Gasquet or Bellucci, then probably Berdych (who we know he can easily handle), and only then Federer or Ferrer – who will have just had a probably difficult battle against the other.

Federer’s draw, actually, is nastier. He has to play F-Lo again in the very first round, followed by some French WC, and then Tipsy or Dodig or just maybe Brian Dabul, all of whom are capable. Then he has a fourth round match against Wawa and a QF against, presumably, Ferrer (although there could be some upsets there, with good players like Nishikori and Lu).

But Nadal’s is pretty rough too! He faces Isner in the first round – okay, not exactly a dangerous clay floater, but a big rougher than the no-names the top seeds usually get in a first round. His second round is against Giraldo (probs), who is a pretty good clay courter. Then a third round against Cuevas (or someone else…just maybe Davydenko!), followed byan early encounter with Verdasco — always very dangerous! — in the fourth round. And his quarter is against Soderling, who will probably roll over for him, but might scent blood in his weaknesses this year… followed by a semi against Murray or just maybe some other nice surprise, Melzer or Almagro or even Troicki or someone even less likely. Okay, none of those guys are going to give Rafa much trouble on clay, but aside from the semifinal round I submit his draw is at least as nasty as Djokovic’s.


madmax Says:

Federer will surprise ‘em all yet, it’s just he is so unpredictable these days dari.

Rog has every chance, it’s whether he takes it.

Annacone should be making changes in his game both on the mental side (play all those matches on cinema sound TV, with rog saying ‘come on’, showing the passion! He needs it! I hope he plays and replays the last 4 finals against rafa and novak – watching how novak plays, flattens out the balls against rafa’s top spin – THOSE shots were amazing.

Go fed!


PJ Says:

My guess about the “Novak still hasn’t done it against Federer” comment is that he’s talking about clay. Novak and Roger haven’t met yet in all of the warm up tournaments.


Daniel Says:

Jane,

I picked Murray to beat Nadal and lose yet again to Novak in the final.

Somehow, if Murray is in the semis, he should be ready to batle, and since he won sets on clay agaisnt Nadal and Djoko, and to me is the fittest of the 3, I picked him for my major upset.


madmax Says:

Isner is no contest for rafa on clay. Ludicrous to think otherwise.


Eric Says:

Dude…you picked Murray to make it (a) to a French Open SF for the first time ever, on the basis of his form this year? and (b) to beat Rafa there? Bold pick, man, bold pick. I have a gut feeling that you might not be completely off-base there…


jane Says:

Daniel, very brave pick! :) Did you put Fed through to the semis? I haven’t looked at the brackets yet. When do we have until? Saturday? What about Delpo as a potential upset for Nole?


margot Says:

Only Nole looks to be really on form to me, followed by Rafa who, after all got to all those finals! Andy just pulled out of exhibition with a groin something or other, so who knows?
As jane says, draws don’t usually pan out, in the early stages anyway. Many players are nursing injuries/illnesses or just plain old bad form, difficult to predict…so hey ho…off to do the bracket ;)


margot Says:

jane, would be very surprised! Nursing injury plus Nole always had his number…and that was old Nole :)


stu Says:

margot, but it was also “old” Delpo that Nole beat 3/3 times – i.e. before USO 2009…


stu Says:

Anyway, I still maintain that it’s worse luck for Delpo than for Nole that they are meeting in the 3rd round :)


Eric Says:

Well I have submitted my picks…which devolve into a wishful fantasy in the later rounds. :) Fed over Nole, Soda over Rafa… ahem…yeah right.


El Flaco Says:

Madmax,

I’m not saying Djoko and Fed will meet in the semi. IF they meet then Nadal would be happy if Fed beat him. Of course assuming Nadal is in the final.

Nadal will be a little more nervous than usual playing Isner, but I agree he should win comfortably. He would much rather be playing a 150th ranked clay court specialist from Ecuador with no dangerous weapons. I can’t see Isner breaking Nadal’s serve and Rafa has been very difficult to ace lately. He is playing extremely deep on return of serve and getting his racquet on almost everything. Fed is usually good for at least a couple aces per set against Nadal and he has maybe 1 ace in their last 4 sets played.


jane Says:

margot, am keeping my fingers crossed. Anyone know when the challenge picks are due? I cannot get to them before tomorrow I don’t think.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Nole has 3 rounds where someone could reasonably upset him: DelPo, Bellucci, and Fed.
Nadal has 2: Davydenko and Murray.

I would say Davy and Bellucci are about equally unlikely upsets, but still, Nole has DelPo and Fed, Nadal just has Murray.

But it doesn’t matter who Nole has after DelPo, because,
LET ME BE FIRST TO SAY, JMDP ENDS THE STREAK.


Ben Pronin Says:

You guys do know Del Po has never beaten Djokovic, right?


Van orten Says:

The draw is ok! Maybe fed is the one to bring them down maybe someone totally else…RG Will be awesome this year!


Eric Says:

TV, if you think that Davydenko could upset Rafa on clay….. He does technically have a winning record against the king o’ clay, but as far as I know they’re not competitive off hard courts. Plus Davydenko has not been a threat to anyone since like 16 months ago. Glimmers of his past form, that’s all.

Verdasco is by far the most credible upset threat to Rafa and you don’t mention him at all. Weird.


margot Says:

jane u have at least until this time tomorrow, a little longer I think. Just done mine in two seconds flat…major revision tomorrow is likely :)


Eric Says:

Yeah, I checked and Rafa leads 3-0 against Davy on clay, even though Davy leads 6-1 on non-clay.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Davydenko has won 4 in a row as well. When you’re talking about Rafa on clay, obviously anyone beating him (except Nole) is an upset. But Davydenko beat Rafa in January on hards, and 3 straight before. So its not outrageous. Verdasco is not a threat to anyone now.

Ben – Nole and DelPotro haven’t played since early 09, long before DelPotro mpved up the rankings. Its really a new DelPotro and new Nole too, those stats are meaningless. I got faith in DelPotro, he’s had an amazing comeback, I think Novak has to be losing a step eventually after all the tennis he’s played.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ben- but I fully admit its a guess based on a hunch based on a gut feel. But I think that’s scientific.


jane Says:

Delpo and Nole played mid-2009 last, on clay, in Rome. Nole won in straight sets. So it was the tournament just before Delpo took Fed to five sets in the FO semifinals, in other words, Delpo was in fine form when Nole beat him on clay. Still, I won’t underestimate him as a big threat. It depends on how well Nole returns his serve, because he has a much better return than Delpo, and also on how well Nole moves him around with drop shots and slices, etc. To me, Nole can exploit Delpo more that Soderling can.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Great pic of Fed and Nole high fiving on practice court on RG site.


stu Says:

Ooh Fed smiles at Nole these days.

Novak is 125-1 to go unbeaten through the entire year.


jane Says:

Oops Rome wasn’t the tournament right before RG in 2009, but still Tennis Vagabond I think you are exaggerating a little bit on how Delpo had not moved up the rankings. He was ranked 5th in that 2009 match versus Nole and he has earlier beaten Rafa in Miami, so he was on an upwards trajectory anyhow. And in fact, I actually agree with you that he will be a big threat to Nole and could be the one to end his streak. But i would lean towards Novak to come through. You never know though. Delpo beat up on Verdasco at Estoril.


jane Says:

Nice picture of Fed and Nole. :)


Eric Says:

TV, good points. I didn’t know it was 4 in a row. I still say Verdasco is a tougher threat, though. Maybe I am crazy. :)


andrea Says:

tough opener for fed, but it looks like he has a relatively easier draw post lopez. but with his up and down playing it’s tough to say.

i don’t know about delpo…he hasn’t been 100% since his return. he’s been on some good streaks, but then pulls out with injury (Rome). would be nice to see him make some inroads here.

this stretch (thru to end of Wimbledon) will be a good test on novak’s streak. with more matches, and best of 5 sets, it’l be interesting to see how he copes.

can’t believe its the french open again!


Dory Says:

Crap! Novak does have a difficult draw if all of the higher seeeds win.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Exciting times, friends, exciting times!

I’m also so interested in my boy Another Game For, and hoping (stupidly, maybe) to see some more glimpses of brilliance from The Dog.

We have all these great storylines coming into a Slam, and Fed is really not one of them. I still believe he’s a threat, mind you, but he’s not really one of the top of mind stories for this event. Fed as a lurker! This is the new reality. I would love it if he would seize that role, as a dragon slayer.


Daniel Says:

Call me crazy, but I feel Murray is sensing his time is coming, and what better way to show he is mature by beating Nadal in RG to achieve a final?! Of course, if he managed that he will be spent by the final, but physically, mentally and overwelmed by the ocasion, That’s why I will have Nole winning again. Djoko will already be n.1.

Murray delieverd a convincing 6-2 set agaisnt Nadal. Maybe as he had nothing to lose in that match due to his elbow uncertainty, he delivereed that set. I just had a feeling he is long due a great win again. And this may set everything better for Wimby.

Maybe he won’t beat Nadal, but it will be a hell of a match. Murray is playing Nadal the same way Djoko is, but less consistancy. If Murray has a dream serving day, he can do it.


stu Says:

Okay, my gut has spoken. I’m going with Nole, FO 2011 C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. Because he is too stubborn to lose.


jane Says:

Sad about Delpo’s sister. : ( He seems like the personification of “gentle giant” in some ways. I just hope he doesn’t beat Nole. But if it happens, I hope Nole goes all out to win Wimbledon and gets right back on the horse.


dari Says:

delpo makes me get all emo, EVERY time.
Thx for article, stu


dari Says:

I don’t want novak or nadal to win RG.
I’m in the fed- Murray- delpo crowd
This is gonna be a good one!


Fritz Says:

I don’t want to predict anything, but really hope for Novak-Andy final.

Nadal may be “tenderized” by opposition prior to the Myrray encounter, and Andy could take advantage of that.


jane Says:

^ that would be great Fritz. Nole would get number one ranking, and if Andy wins the final, he’d get number one slam. Could be win-win for the birthday boys. :)


Skeezerweezer Says:

I am predicting Raonic serves and volleys his way through and wins it all. The game of Pong is dead!!!


Skeezerweezer Says:

Wait, i changed my mind. I am predicting Rochus wins. The game of cut and paste is dead!! You heard here first. Go to SkeezersDeadlockFantasyPicks.com for all your betting locks.


Alexander X Says:

Watch Roger Federer Do Absolutely Nothing, And Do it Well

Finally after the draw I understood the (message) title of the article much better. It is all about luck and it is always going to be that way. Based on Roman’s draw Rafa should win, could not go easier for him over three.


Kimmi Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
“You guys do know Del Po has never beaten Djokovic, right?”

ha-ha ben, there was a time nole never beat rafa in the final..just saying!


Alexander X Says:

over (three) there.


Kimmi Says:

but my hope is for somebody who can get to the final to be able to give rafa a challenge..


Kimberly Says:

i know he has disappointed me lately (4 times) but my gut is still telling me Nadal’s winning this one.

I keep switching his semifinal and 4th round opponents in my draw. Pretty sure Soda in the QF.


dari Says:

As TV said, fed is a lurker.
That credit Suisse commercial that they put making of up here- he seems like a crocodile- getting some sun, diving in the water and then floating with just his head above water.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMm1MOe_20o&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Hope he opens the jaws and attacks!
Tourney topia says we can fill out as many brackets as we want. I think ill do one fantasy and one realistic.
And realistically, I think Rafa has had his fill of clay losses this year and will take RG.


Kimberly Says:

Contador, who has been missing in action usually does two.


mat4 Says:

I predicted well the draw for the semi on Sportvox (in french) yesterday (thursday), but I misfired most of the quarters. Sod with Rafa, it was OK, but I wrote Ferrer with Djoko and Berdych with Fed (wrong), but the worst I wrote was that Del Po will land in the Rafa/Sod quarter. I should have known better.


333momo Says:

I don´t think Nadal wants Federer to beat Djoko in the semifinal, I think he wants revenge after all these defeats to the Serb.

Oh, and I think Soderling might go far again. He loves these courts.


Eric Says:

mat4, how can you “predict” a draw? It’s random.


Dory Says:

As much as RF is my favorite ever, Roger had plenty of chances in the past FO finals to beat Nadal but in almost every FO final, he looked “paralyzed” against Nadal. It’s Djoko’s prime-time now. GO DJOKO! I KNOW YOU WILL WIN THE FO!


Michael Says:

Soderling always seem to have a tough draw up his sleeves. Even the law of averages does not favour him when it comes to tournament draws. Now he is expected to meet the indomitable Nadal in the quarters. That will be an helluva of a match, but yet it would take all the mastery of Soderling to make it a decent match. On the other hand, I expect Djokovic to easily beat Del Potro considering the match up between the two players. Murray and Federer are having relatively easy draws. For the sake of tennis fans, it should be Murray Vs Nadal and Djokovic Vs Federer in the semis with Nadal against Djokovic in the finals. That will be the best tribute to this round of French Open.


Huh Says:

one of the most difficult difficult draws in tennis history ever handed out to nole, dont see his chances of winninmFO further diminishin(furthr in the sens that i hav always thought, no matter what, rafa is goin to win RG; and now that he’s no threat until quartrs, he’ll breeze thro to qf unchallengd and then to finals, rafa couldnt hav askd for an easier draw for himself consistin of out-of-form cum low-in-confidence folks like verdasco, davy etc in his quarter, even sod’s little form/momentum/confidence combined with pressure of expecations goin against him in his possibl encounter with rafa! all this points to me that rafa’ll sail thro at least semi and then overcom semi opponent, land in final and clinch the trophy!
morover, how ironical that if things play true to form/potential, nole will meet jmdp in exactly what would b his 42nd match of his streak!!! i
m not fond of numbers as they put pressure! nole’s streak may be at stake, come 3rd round(if he meets JMDP) and by them he’d hav won jst 41 matches! however, it almost goz without sayin dat if nole wins his 42nd straight match beatin jmdp, it’d be that much more impressive(thou i like jmdp more than nole). it woulda been much better for me thou if jmdp had landed in rafa’s qtr.


Huh Says:

in the previos post i meant to say “see his(nole’s) chances of winnin FO furthr diminishin due to the tough draw meted out to him”. typo mistak makes it look otherwise. sorry for such typo error in previos post.


steve Says:

I think Djokovic will probably make the semis easily. He is so confident right now, and he’s had some time to rest.

Del Potro is not in top form, his attacking game is not at its peak. He’s had to play a lot of defense, and I think that’s why he got injured. He is not a safe bet to even meet Djokovic.

Nadal is not playing poorly this year. He has made the finals of the last six tournaments he has entered: IW, Miami, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome. I don’t think he has ever done that before. If it weren’t for Djokovic he would be cleaning up even more than he has ever done. I don’t think he will have any problems with any of his opponents until the final. (And there’s no reason to believe he won’t make it to the final).

I don’t think Murray will make it that far. His remarkable ability in best of three (he is 6-1 in Masters finals) has never seemed to translate to best of five.

And last mentioned but first in my heart–c’mon Roger! I hope he can make semis. Then we’ll see what happens. He is still well capable of stellar tennis; the mental aspect is the problem.


steve-o Says:

That post just now was mine; I accidentally typed “steve” into the form.


Dory Says:

Agree 100% steve-o. Confidence and mental toughness, not losing focus – all those things Nole is doing perfect right now and RF needs to gain the mental aspect back. The talent and the physical fitness is still definitely there.


Lulu Iberica Says:

As a Nadal fan, other than obviously Rafa winning, I don’t know which outcomes I prefer. The sweetest scenario would be for Rafa to face Djoko and win, even though Djoko would still take #1. I think it’s important for Rafa’s confidence going forward that he beat Djoko. On the other hand, losing to Djoko again would be the worst! Also would hate a loss to Muzza in the semi, but I don’t think Andy is ready to outlast Rafa in a best of 5 format. I wouldn’t mind if Fed gets on fire, takes out Nole, then Rafa beats Fed. Even losing to Fed would be better than losing to Nole again.


grendel Says:

Curious what a difference a few weeks makes. A month or so ago, Nadal was riding high, the greatest this since that, in fact greater than any this or even that that you could care to mention. Borg, for example, was dismissed with knowing smiles as not worthy of being mentioned in the same b. One or two wiser heads, people like Lendl who had actually played Borg, counselled caution on this front, but by and large, the canonization of Nadal on clay went through with remarkably little fuss.

However, just a couple of losses, and apparently everything has changed. Now, the greatest(etc, etc) is not even favourite to win the title. (Quite what this makes Djokovic, b.t.w., in terms of all time claycourt ranking, is a little hard to fathom). Players like Davydenko (washed out), Soderling (a shadow of the player who thrashed Nadal a couple of years ago), Verdasco (who’s just Verdasco – ‘nuff said) are brought up, as if they actually have a shot at beating Nadal. These are heady days. Perhaps Isner, now. After all, chap’s got an undeniably big serve, he’s pretty big altogether in fact, perhaps he’ll fall on top of Nadal at some point in the match and that might do the trick without any further ado. Meanwhile, there’s dear old Andy. If you remember, Andy was the knight on the white charger who was supposed to stop the Nadal rollercoaster at the US Open. But Andy got lost on the way as Andy will. Still, if Andy actually makes it to the semis this time, at least he’ll give Nadal a bit of tennis. But beat him, over 5? Come on, now. We all like to smile, but…

And then there was Djokovic. The legitimate contender. No doubt. But will he get to the final? There is, for instance, the question of delPo. The organizers of the draw forgot that delPo and Djoko were supposed to be ranged against Nadal, so that if one failed to beat him, then the other would. Instead, they have to battle it out with each other. Shocking planning, there. But let’s say Djokovic makes it to the final. He’s supposed to be favourite? Against the mighty, Borg slaying (if only in heated imaginations) Nadal on his favourite clay surface, in his spiritual home and over 5 sets? Yes, it’s possible. But likely?


Skeezerweezer Says:

It will be interesting to see Rafa’s style of play in FO. I think (hope?) we have seen the last of the MB. Interesting take on Rafa from JMac;

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/mcenroe-nadal-must-change-his-game-2285399.html

And a one-liner on Murray ;)


grendel Says:

McEnroe says:”"It appeared that he [Nadal] was allowing Djokovic to dictate play and was banking on him missing and not being consistent enough. It seemed like he was getting pushed around too much. I’m sure his camp is going to go back to the drawing board and try to make it harder for Novak to step in and be as aggressive as he’s been the last couple of weeks.”

Good on you, Mac. Never be afraid to state the obvious…. defence didn’t work. Ooh, now – I know! Let’s try aggression!


jamie Says:

Are Fedal done winning slams? What do you all think?


Kimberly Says:

nadal’s winning this one….


jamie Says:

I’m just wondering if we are entering a new era with Djokovic, Del Potro and Murray winning all the slams and Federer and Nadal not being able to win even a slam.


Alexander X Says:

I do agree with Grendel. Unless officially NDJ is #1 the draw logic is at list a bit strange. The current champ has to bit #2 and #3 in order to keep it and it is evidently that they switch the groups. RN is with the players who played Rome/Madrid with NDJ and wise versa??

You always as #1 have to go through the heal in order to show the power, at list used to be like that. I do not see why NDJ again as #2 needs to bit both RF and RN in order to win GS or at list if someone with the higher view than mine may elaborate what was the goal of this draw? What French guys were trying to accomplish here: To hide or to protect current numero-uno or what??

Where are the guys the experts in juicy story to educate us bit here?


riri Says:

My heart wants Nole to win but my head says Rafa will win. This’s RG, Rafa’s backyard.
Vamos Tamos !


Andrew Miller Says:

Sheesh – what if Djokovic becomes the 3rd man in 3 years to hold all four slams? A year ago this thought would have never occurred to me. But if Djokovic really has it together in Paris, is this really out of the realm of possibility?


Kimmi Says:

kimberly – i must have done something wrong. i fill out my picks but i cannot see my name in the list. where is the tennis-x group standing?

I am probably in another pool, help!


Kimberly Says:

I will be home in a few and see if I can help. I saw you were registered.


mat4 Says:

@Eric: That’s what I also thought. Unfortunately, it seems it is not. I wrote an analysis of the semi-final draw somewhere on this blog, and the odds where 1:1000 to always have a semi leading to the Fedal final (2009 RG excepted, when they hoped for a Rafole final).

I don’t know how they are doing that, since some of the draw is made by hand, so everything can’t be controlled, obviously.

Just look at this: the director of the MS1000 of Monte Carlo is a friend of Niki Pilic. Djokovic never landed in Rafa’s half there. Ditto for Rome, where he is very popular.


Kimberly Says:

Submit your bracket here:
http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketFrenchOpenATP/tennisxfansforever/default.aspx.

I see you have registered but no entry submitted. There are several people registered without entries so I hope no problems! Login and you will prob have to copy your other bracket. Put in your entry ID and print it up and copy it.

Mrs. Vagabond, Jane, GoKylie, and AKBesser, scineram, are all registered as well without a bracket entry.


Eric Says:

Mat4, I’m sorry, but that’s patently false. Federer and Rafa have only had the potential to meet in the semis at, what, like, 20 or 30 tournaments, max, in the past 6 years. And they’ve been in the same half at least once already this year out of fewer than six tournaments they could have met in the semis. So I have no idea where your 1:1000 odds calculation came from – but it’s bullshit.


dari Says:

on second thought, once i actually looked at the bracket, one was enough!


dari Says:

ok, im a bit confused, too. i just submitted my picks but only see myself in the general pool. when you get a chance, kimberly, can you tell if i am registred in tennisx, too? thanks!


dari Says:

i think i got it


skeezerweezer Says:

Mat4 I don’t get what your tryin to say either…?? re:2;11 post


dari Says:

i submitted twice somehow, but its the same draw. if anyone knows how to remove an entry, let me know!


Kimberly Says:

Dari—-As “administrator” I can remove the entry let me know which ID you want removed. You are in the pool with 2 entries.

Still no kimmi. Wow tennis channel is complex. Last time I had to manually enter picks for two or three people, email them to confirm after the deadline (you can accept late entries on this site if you choose too)


dari Says:

it doesn’t matter, they are the same.
thanks Kimberly!


jane Says:

I have to make my picks, but I cannot decide who will win. I guess I should go with Rafa, given Nole’s draw. But what about upsets? Will “the big four” all make the semis??? Arrrgh. Love and hate picking. : /


Kimberly Says:

anyone with questions also my email is on the tennisxfans page, can email me that way all of tennis-x isnt technical problems with the bracket.

The following users are registered without entries, if you have made your picks and I don’t have them you have probably submitted to the main pool instead of the private pool:

AKBesser
CinMeg73
dcinefilo
janetennisx
kimmitennisx
Mrs. Vagabond
Scoreboard
Stu


grendel Says:

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/patrick-mouratoglou/article/1773/

Quite a good summary. If the author is right, then it is more important for Nadal than for Djokovic to win. Because a loss by Nadal – at the hands of the same tormenter – would have the effect of confirming his deposition. And this would affect his confidence for Wimbledon, never mind the US hard court season. On the other hand, a loss by Djokovic, providing it wasn’t overwhelming, could be felt as an inevitable blip, almost a relief. Streak over, start again. It would not affect Djokovic’s state of mind for Wimbledon, I don’t think – where, in any case, he is not expected to win. b.t.w., Djkovic has talked of winning Wimbledon as being his main ambition. Recently, he has said RG is his favourite tournament. I guess these two positions are compatible – sort of.

So the pressure on Nadal is enormous. We haven’t really seen him having to react to pressure of this specific type before. This time, he can’t hide behind comfortable fairy stories suggesting he is not really the favourite. For one thing, such a tale would be, for once, uncomfortably close to the truth, so we might see Nadal in the unusual position of claiming he has the weapons to beat Djokovic. Nadal is a great champion, without doubt, and I think he’ll come out with all guns firing, and that will be too much – for anyone.


mat4 Says:

@Eric:

My calculation was about the semi-final draw for the GSs. I assumed that Murray was more dangerous for Roger on hardcourts than Djoko, that Djokovic was more dangerous to Nadal on the same hardcourts, but that on clay, it was the opposite: Djokovic was a worthy opponent.

RG 2009 excepted (after the sinking of Roger the year before and some exceptional matches between Rafa and Djoko) the pattern is always the same in the last three years.

The draws are, in part, certainly fixed. I could bet, before the AO, that Soderling was going to land in Murray’s quarter, and I was certain that we would have a semi Federer-Djokovic, especially since Djokovic lost three times in a row against Fed.

The only GS where I won’t bet is Wimbledon, because I believe that they don’t cheat. But like I said, “I believe”. Who knows…


Eric Says:

Mat4 — okay, now that you’ve actually explained I see what you mean. It is true that Djokovic has always or basically always been on Federer’s half of the draw at the hardcourt slams. But that pattern doesn’t hold at the French, where he has been on Rafa’s side twice and on Fed’s once in the past three years.

It’s certainly possible and even likely that the draws are fixed, although I always thought they were supposed to be random. They definitely seem to be random at most tournaments, but it is certainly suspicious to get Fed and Djokovic always in the same half at all 7 previous hardcourt slams. :)


Eric Says:

And that’s a great article by Boris Becker, too. Great to hear some actual words of sense from a past great (are you listening, Mac?).


Duro Says:

Happy birthday to Novak Djokovic, the future number 1, so help him God!

In No1-vak we trust!


Kimberly Says:

Submit your bracket here:
http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketFrenchOpenATP/tennisxfansforever/default.aspx.

then it will be part of the group. There are several registered users with no entries and I fear that they have submitted the bracket to the wrong place.


grendel Says:

Yes, meaty article by Becker. Interesting that he thinks Federer is about 10% behind Nadal and Djokovic as of now, but still has maybe 1 or 2 slams left in him. I like his cool, understated way of saying things (“I like the way Federer plays”). Becker says that Djokovic’s streak of 37 is actually 39 if you count his Davis Cup wins. Are they countable, and if not, why not, and who decides these things?

In a Telegraph link, Martina Hingis says:”The clay courts at Roland Garros almost play like hard courts, as the sand on them is very fine. The surface in Paris is much faster and has a much truer bounce than at the other clay-court tournaments around Europe, and that is to Sharapova’s advantage, as her game is better suited to quick conditions.”

I’m absolutely confused now – not that that’s anything unusual, confusing place this world, but I keep hearing different assessments of the various European clay courts. I thought RG was supposed to be slow and like Monte Carlo. But now we’re told that Madrid is fast, Rome is fast, RG, for God’s sake, is fast. What’s going on? And what, in any case, is the significance of it all? For instance, Hamburg was supposed to be very slow and yet Federer liked it and Nadal didn’t, particularly.

Is all this fast/slow stuff a bit of a red herring, or at least not sufficient in itself to give a firm grasp of the qualities of the various surfaces? Maybe you need to factor in other characterstics – bounce, grip, slipperiness/heaviness, climate, what the girls look like in the front rows, and various other imponderables?


mat4 Says:

@Eric:

The pattern is OK for RG, because the aim is to have the most expected final. It was Fedal in 2008 and 2010, but Rafole in 2009.

@Grendel: You are not the only one to get confused. Rafa says that RG courts are just like MC. But the courts at Monaco should be slow. We know that, from time to time, that have to renew the surface, but how much does it really change?

And then, there is the debate about the new Babolat balls. It seems that they are faster and difficult to control, but that they change very much after a few rallies.


Eric Says:

Grendel – sure, the Davis cup wins are countable. If you go back and look, until about a month ago a lot of the Djokovic stories had something like “Djokovic who has won 23 matches so far this year, 25 overall…” Then his streak just in 2011 became a huge story and they dropped the overall streak.

So Djokovic has won 39 in a row (or whatever), but the 37 to start off the season is what most people find even more remarkable (for the same stupid reason that people were more impressed with Rafa winning 3 slams in a row than with Fed for holding 3 slams thrice, just not in a row in a calendar year…).


grendel Says:

yes, well, of course any calendar is an artificial construct. We get misled by its convenience into thinking there is something ordained about it. But not only is it never noon or midnight on the sun, for instance, nor could it be even if you could somehow live there. Doubtless you’d find some other way of recording time. Or would you? Damn weird stuff, time. It’s past 1 a.m. in the morning where I am, which is why, eyes blearily blinking, I am spouting all this rubbish.

Is it the case that people were more impressed with Rafa than Fed, or was it that they were excited by the prospect of a Martina type slam (4 on the trot)? We’re all greedy for other peoples’ records – that’s a very strange thing, if you think about it, especially since (except for ultra devoted fans) it doesn’t much matter who has the records, or at least it matters but not as much as you might think, and you kind of will them on to get them, whoever they may be. I think we’re grasping for eternity,in any way we can, that’s what I think. But then again, when I was a youngster, there was this chap (or was it the comedian Peter Cook?) who used to assert, in a thick west country accent, “the answer lies in the soil”. I am drivelling, I see. Time for bed.


telmolicious Says:

to state that verdasco is the only major threat to nadal is wrong on several levels. First of all: only 2 times out of 12 meetings have verdasco taken sets from nadal – both on fast surfaces. Their last meeting on clay was 0 and 1 for Rafa….. IN A FINAL! furthermore u cant completely rule out robin as he is the only guy who has…. and rafas confidence seems shaky – joker losses and Isner being the first to make Rafa go the distance in RG. I see Rafa and jokers draws as equal… Delpo has got 1 more difficult opponent, but Rafa has got the biggest in Murray. Delpo is dangerous but he is not fit – injury and taking time off lately because of that – he will tire. I cant see gasquet or belluci take joker out in a slam and federer hasnt been a threat 2 joker lately… ferrer is a tough one but then again he hasnt ever made semis in RG even though he has allways performed in the warm-ups… Murray on the other hand is dangerous both playing AND fitness wise ! this is a toughy ! better than ever on clay and only guy 2 take sets from the big 2 … he is mentally weak though which is a BIG problem in slams against Rafa ! choked against joker and probably will again.


telmolicious Says:

The calender year, three in a row and so on is all about perfection. Its the same with a hattrick in football. A true hattrick is scored in a row without another goal interrupting – perfection. When a record is made we all want to see it perfected. It just sounds better to say that a person hasnt lost at all this year than saying he hasnt lost for 40 matches. Though both records are often mentioned. I think ppl want to see how long into a year that a guy can remain unbeaten. The year refference gives ppl a timeline and a perspective. ppl allways talk about the perfect season. Calender slam and so on. If you say a guy is unbeaten for 40 matches – ppl wants to know for how long a time – therefore the time refference.

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