The one guy who needed a good French Open draw got it. Of course I’m not speaking of 7-time champion Rafael Nadal. Nor Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic. But rather Roger Federer. The Swiss, who hasn’t beaten a top 10 player since January, couldn’t have picked out a better draw if he had done it himself. Perhaps he did do it himself. But will that be enough?
As for the overall draw, I have to rate the top half stronger, and not just because of Novak and Rafa. There are a lot of dangerous claycourters in there like Grigor Dimitrov, Alexandr Dolgoplov, Richard Gasquet, Tommy Haas, Jerzy Janowicz, Benoit Paire, Stan Wawrinka and Martin Klizan.
Still, it’s looking inevitable we’ll end up seeing Novak-Rafa come that last Friday, battling it out for five hours in the semifinals.
Before then, Djokovic has the toughest draw of the top 4. The Serb’s opener is David Goffin who gave Federer fits a year ago in the fourth round. We haven’t heard from the boyish Belgian since, but he’s shown he has some talent on the red stuff. In the third Novak could get a rematch with Dimitrov. Grigor stunned him in Madrid, but here I expect Novak to gain his revenge in best of five. In the fourth round it’s maybe Phil Kohlschreiber who’ll I think emerges from an open section. Then in the quarters Djokovic will be the heavy favorite over maybe Haas is he’s healthy. It’s really anyone’s bet who’ll come out to the qaurter there.
Nadal might face his toughest test early. Rafa opens with the big-hitting Daniel Brands before a date with lefty Klizan. Then it should get easier with Fabio Fognini (or maybe a rematch with Lukas Rosol!), then Paire in the fourth round followed by Gasquet in the quarters. If Wawrinka is 100% fit I’ll take him, but it sounds like he won’t be fully right in the thigh so I’l lean with the Frenchman. If Stan is at full strength it would be a great match with Rafa.
It seems in every draw these days the third quarter is always the most open. And this one is just that. Actually it’s treacherous, especially for one Czech in particular. Tomas Berdych has Gael Monfils to start, then Ernests Gulbis. Tomas isn’t great on clay anyway, but I think can navigate those two. Then it’s the improving Tommy Robredo followed by a likely showdown with Nicolas Almagro. By far, Berdych has the toughest projected draw of anyone early. Meanwhile, after paying his dues with back-to-back Nadal quarters, Ferrer was rewarded this time around. He’ll start with Aussie Marinko Matosevic, then countryman Albert Montanes, followed by Marcel Granollers and then I’ll go with Kevin Anderson.
And if you thought Ferrer had it easier, then wait till you see Federer’s draw. Roger has consecutive qualifers then Julien Benneteau or Ricardas Berankis. Then in the fourth it’s Gilles Simon before either JW Tsonga in the quarters. I like JW to come through over Juan Monaco and Marin Cilic. But at 31 and with his game clearly in decline, Roger needed a good draw and he got it.
So as of now I got the Top 4 seeds in the semifinals. That won’t happen, and my guess is it’s either Federer or Djokovic who fall. It won’t matter though, it’s Rafa’s title regardless.
With the weather so cool and wet, it will make the conditions that much slower, so disadvantage to the power players. And for guys who battling injuries – like Federer and even Nadal – the colder temps won’t help.
Matches begin on Sunday.
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