French Open Men’s Preview: Djokovic Staring At Nadal, Murray Then Federer For Career Slam, Can He Do It?
by Sean Randall | May 22nd, 2015, 1:07 pm
  • 97 Comments

Wow. What a French Open draw. In the past we’ve wondered which half someone like Andy Murray might end up in a big time Grand Slam draw like this. But thanks to Rafael Nadal’s drop in the rankings we keyed on Rafa’s quarterfinal landing spot and would you believe he fell right in Djokovic’s section. That worst-case scenario we’ve talked about for about a month did happen. My oh my.

Now if they do meet – and based on the draw I see no reason for it not to – it could be the biggest Grand Slam quarterfinal in who knows when.

As for the draw in totality…

Djokovic/Nadal Quarter
As I said, I do think both guys reach their quarter spots. Djokovic might have an Aussie in Bernard Tomic or Thanasi Kokkinakis in the third, then maybe Richard Gasquet or Kevin Anderson in the fourth. But really, I don’t see any issues or areas of concern. Nadal’s got a few more hurdles with Nicolas Almagro in the second, Adrian Mannarino in the third and potentially Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Robredo or even Borna Coric in the fourth. I’ll lean to Robredo getting there but he won’t be strong enough to beat Rafa in best-of-5. So the matchup we all want to see should be set, just not that early. But I have to go on form taking Djokovic who’s got the momentum and the confidence while Nadal just isn’t himself right now. That said, I don’t think it will a rollover like Monte Carlo.

“I would love to arrive at that match,” said Nadal. “I don’t see an easy way to get there. That’s a quarter-final and we haven’t even started the first round. I am focused on the things I have to do before that match, and if I reach the quarter-final, then we will have two days [after the fourth round] to talk about it.”
The pick: Djokovic

Murray/Ferrer Quarter
Like the first quarter, here too I see the favorites getting through. Murray, who’s been perfect on clay this year, shouldn’t be under any pressure at all in his section. There’s Nicky Krgios who can excite, but I’m wary of his health. John Isner is always a danger but he could easily get bounced in the first round by Andreas Seppi. Marin Cilic, Leo Mayer and Viktor Troicki also make up a weak section for David Ferrer who should glide through to meet Murray. In that match, I like Murray, but conditions could dictate otherwise.

“You just have to play the matches in front of you and see what happens,” Murray said. “I’m in the same half of the draw as Rafa and Novak, so that’s hard. [David] Ferrer is someone I have never beaten on clay. That’s tough.

“But many times I’ve played in Slams where draws appeared extremely difficult, and a couple of losses and all of a sudden everyone tells me it’s an easy draw.

“I would love to be in a position to have made the semis. For me, that’s a great result at this event. I hope I’m there. There are no guarantees that will be the case. I will have to play really, really well to get there.”
The pick: Murray

Nishikori/Berdych Quarter
This is the toughest quarter to call with Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych and even Fabio Fognini, JW Tsonga, Phil Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco who all have the ability to surprise as well as disappoint. I’d like to see Nishikori play Verdasco third round. I’d also like to see Berdych and Fognini face off, and then Berdych take on Tsonga, which seems like a long shot for the Frenchman to even get out there given his unsteady play of late. So between Berdych and Kei, I’ll go with the bigger hitter Berdych for now. But it’s not a solid selection. Kei could just as easily come through.
The pick: Berdych

Federer/Wawrinka Quarter
With the big guns on top, Roger Federer has to be a happy guy. He’s put up some good numbers this year, but he’s been shaky at times as well. So this is a good, cozy draw for him. Even though Stan Wawrinka is in the mix as a potential quarter – though Guillermo Garcia-Lopez could ultimately be the guy – the only stumbling block I see for Federer is Gael Monfils. Gael was so close to beating Roger at the US Open, and then did it last month in Monte Carlo. Can he do it again in the fourth round in front of his crowd? Yes. Will I pick him to do it – assuming he can even get there by beating Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas – no. Like Rafa, it’s one thing to beat Roger in two sets, but in a Major we are talking best-of-5.

“(Nadal and Djokovic) are not on my side of the draw, but they are, because at the end of the day we are all playing the same tournament,” Federer said. “Whether it’s in the semis or in the finals, if you lose, you lose at one point or another. So my objective is to not lose. I may not play these players right away, but I may have to play them later. It will be interesting to see Rafa play Novak. Rafa is very difficult to beat. Except for Soderling, I don’t really know who else can do it.”
The pick: Federer

Semifinals: Djokovic d Murray; Federer d Berdych
Murray’s playing well, but I don’t see him stopping Djokovic. And I don’t have much faith in Berdych upsetting Roger. Not in a Slam semifinal and not after getting blown out by the Swiss last week in Rome.

Final: Djokovic d Federer
What a match if it comes to pass. Maybe a worst case scenario for Novak who will be faced with mountains of pressure of being the huge favorite to beat a guy who has given him a lot of trouble. And Roger did end his streak in 2011, so there’s that.

As for the Djokovic-Nadal matchup, what can you say other than I hope we see it. It doesn’t matter when. I just want to watch.

“I played him in semifinals and finals more than few times,” Djokovic said. “Actually I think at the very beginning once in quarters, as well. Doesn’t really matter. I mean, I think we both are aiming to play our best, and as the tournament progresses, already by quarterfinals I think we already play at our high.”

Is it unfortunate to play so early? Is it too bad for tennis? Should they have done something to avoid it? I honestly don’t mind it. But what it does mean is Djokovic is really going to have to work hard, very hard, for this record by perhaps having to beat Nadal then Murray and then Federer to do it. That’s one rough road for tennis glory. But it anyone can do it, right now it’s Novak.


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97 Comments for French Open Men’s Preview: Djokovic Staring At Nadal, Murray Then Federer For Career Slam, Can He Do It?

Giles Says:

Don’t be so sure Sean!
There you are, jinxing joker already, I don’t mind! Lol


Ahsan Says:

Waiting to see how Mat4 comes up with a logic to conclude that even this draw was also rigged.


Rich Says:

NOVAK’S QUARTER: Sad that the French didn’t seed Nadal #2, which would have maximized the drama of their tournament, and given the fans the possibility of what they want, a Godzilla vs. King Kong Novak/Nadal final. I think Nadal would be lucky to force a 5th set against Novak, if Nadal even gets there. I love Kokkinakis and Coric, but not on clay, on hard courts.

MURRAY’S QUARTER: Kyrgios on clay would not frighten me were I Murray, nor would the slow-footed Isner or the still off-form Cilic. Seppi I’d watch. Pospisil as a 2nd round opponent for Murray will be thorny, and Sousa is hot. Bolelli could give Ferrer trouble.

NISHIKORI’S QUARTER: Berdych is playing well, but this is his worst surface. Fognini’s not a big-time player. Verdasco is years washed up. Tsonga is so off form his reflection probably looks like a zig-zag. Bellucci and Bautista-Agut might be Kei’s biggest threat.

WAWRINKA QUARTER: Stan finally showing improved form, but clay also is his worst surface. Garcia-Lopez (Wawrinka) and Cuevas (Federer) are two clay court specialists that could upset.

The best question regarding Novak isn’t about the career Grand Slam, but the calendar Grand Slam. I think he’s got the best chance this year of any player I’ve seen dating back to the 80s. The offshore and European books currently have Novak at just over 4 to 1 to do it in 2015. If he stays healthy and doesn’t play too many 1000s….


TGIT Says:

Murray could defeat Djoko if his Nadal match is an all out 5+ hour tennis marathon.


Ben Pronin Says:

If Djokovic can somehow navigate through Nadal and Murray in 4 sets each, I think he’ll be ok for the final.

What an outrageous draw, though. A part of me would definitely love to see Djokovic beat the rest of the big 4 in order to win the French. I think that would make it one of, if not the greatest, slam run ever. Taking out Nadal at the French is worth a million bonus points as it is, but if he follows it up beating Murray and then Federer in the final, woo-wee.

But Murray’s right. He’s often gotten some rough draws only for them to open up a lot (Wimbledon 2013 for example). I do think he’s in for a tough one against Ferrer. I also think Nishikori probably benefits the most from this draw. He has a legitimate shot at the title if he can beat choking-Berdych and aging-Federer to face a possibly very worn out opponent in the final.

That Federer has a cushy draw also doesn’t mean much. He hasn’t been that strong at the French the last few years, prone to extended matches and possible upsets. Monfils could get him here. Wawrinka could be Staminal the next 2 weeks for all we know. There’s always a question mark. And should he make the final against one of his younger rivals, I think the physicality will really get to him. This is a much more physical event than Wimbledon.

I guess we’ll see. But jeez the tennis powers really hate Djokovic.


brando Says:

I think Nadal v Djokovic will be a dog fight to end all dog fights. Novaks in the form of his life and wants this badly. He ain’t going down easy. And rafa? I think he’ll lay it all out there and some more. That’s why this is a nightmare draw for both: they both know whoever wins has to go through hell to carry on. Then guess what? A fresh, inform, unbeaten Murray lies in wait. There’s no way Andy will go down easy in that one (of course this is should they all meet). Hence: I think whoever comes through from Nadal- Djokovic maybe even Andy in the final will be screwed over since I see 2 very tough back to back matches and then a final forNadal or Djokovic. Meanwhile the other side is a relative stroll in the park.


Humble Rafa Says:

Suddenly, I love the Lawn Mower tournament…and their arbitrary rankings based on seniority, past accomplishment and pure gentleman-ess


jane Says:

i’m surprised they are not starting the very-loaded half of the draw first, at least to give them a little head start. novak is number 1 and rafa is a 9 time champion.

but i don’t know how they decide which side to start at the french. maybe this is tradition?

at wimbledon, it’s always the defending champion’s side that starts first, and he or she always an initial match on the grass. that’s a nice tradition methinks.


Rich Says:

Humble Rafa, I totally agree with you, except I always loved Wimbledon’s old-time re-seeding policy.

Seeding at Slams should accentuate the game, and provide the best product. The fans and advertisers want the players with the best chance of winning THAT PARTICULAR TOURNAMENT to face off as late as possible, when the drama and stakes are at their highest.

Seeding Federer and Berdych higher than Nadal doesn’t make sense to me, given Federer’s last 3 years or so and Berdych’s career, especially on clay (5 first round FO losses). Even Murray and Nishikori are stretches, despite their recent form.

We want Mayweather/Pacquiao for the title on HBO, not as a tape-delayed tune-up Friday night fight on ESPN2.


Ben Pronin Says:

Murray won’t be fresh if he makes the semifinals. Do you think Ferrer is just gonna lay over for him? That’s gonna be a very physical match. Probably even more physical than Nadal-Djokovic.

And whoever reaches the final on the other side won’t do so easily. At all. There are no strolls to a grand slam final.


Ben Pronin Says:

Mayweather-Pacquia happened 6 years too late anyway.

If the slams should start reseeding players to accentuate the game then why not just fix the draw completely? Why even worry about seeds or random drawing? Just put Djokovic at the top and Nadal at the bottom and that’s that.


chris ford1 Says:

Well, at least the French can look forward to a blockbuster quarterfinal and the other half of a draw where they can enjoy an extended lunch and dinner and not worry too much on what happens in it until the semifinals.
Maybe Amelie Mauresmo was able to work a little magic and stick Nole with Rafa before Andy had to face either.
Oh, and happy birthday, Nole. Enjoy your French Open present!


Daniel Says:

Also, weather can play a factor this year. The next 10 days there it won’t pass 22 C, lottos cloudy days and second sSunday is already schedule for 50% chance of rain. Seems this is not going to be a sunny dry French Open, which is even more bad news for Nadal. It’s going to be slow conditions favoring the guys who doesn’t move as well but are big hitters. Keep following weather forecast to see if any changes happens.

Anyone knows who will play first on Sunday, if there is any big name playing?!


the DA Says:

“But many times I’ve played in Slams where draws appeared extremely difficult, and a couple of losses and all of a sudden everyone tells me it’s an easy draw.”

You’re not the only one everyone tells Andy, they tell all of us…ad infinitum.

Kyrgios doesn’t worry me too much either (although I’d never underestimate him). In the two matches they’ve played, Andy seems to have worked out an effective plan to diffuse his game. Isner has only taken 1 set in 4 matches with Muzz so not too big a concern – plus he lost to Thiem today in straights.

Ferrer is the big question mark. You’d think if Andy can beat Kei on clay (a turbo charged version of Ferru) then he *should* be able to employ a similar game plan for Daveed. IMO, in their previous encounters Andy allowed himself to get drawn into too many CC FH exchanges – Ferru’s peak comfort zone. If Andy tries to dictate more and use his BHDTL aggressively like he did in Madrid, I think he has a shot. One match at a time.


Skeezer Says:

Surprised to see so many votes for Fed. Really?


the DA Says:

@Daniel – “Anyone knows who will play first on Sunday, if there is any big name playing?”

According to a tweet from one journalist that I saw, Sunday matches are scheduled for:

Federer
Wawrinka
Nishikori
Tsonga

@Jane – I share your concern and agree it should go first. I saw somewhere that RG decided to schedule the bottom half to start Monday & Tuesday. But in the next sentence they announced the above matches from the top half, including a few on Monday. Confusing.


brando Says:

“It will be interesting to see Rafa play Novak. Rafa is very difficult to beat. Except for Soderling, I don’t really know who else can do it.”: LOL Roger! Does anyone else think that: even though rafa is his greater rival and threat generally that Roger actually would root for Rafael over novak? That he likes rafa more out of the 2? Might be crazy for thinking this but: I think out of those 2 roger seems pro rafa to me. I think he likes rafa more so. Identifies with him also. He’s always backed rafa in his struggles and I even once saw him say if Rafael passes him then it’s all good. All of which indicates to me that whilst his fans feel otherwise: rog doesn’t hate or have any ill will towards rafa at all.


montecarlo Says:

There is no way Murray is beating Ferrer in BO5 on clay Court.

I think Semis will be Nadal v Ferrer and Berdych v Monfils


Rick Says:

I have a feeling that, Rafa suddenly finds his game, when he plays against Djokovic. Then when Sean picks Rafa wins against Murray in the semi. Then sadly, Rafa will exits. I know how his spells and curses work. Especially foror how he jinx his picks.


jane Says:

call me crazy, but i honestly think if rafa wins the french, he’s got a good shot at the channel slam (extra week between FO and wimb; playing queens again; not that much energy spent thus far this year). which, of course, would put him at 16 slams – one shy of fed’s total. fed might wanna be careful for what he wishes. ha. ;)


Rick Says:

When Soderling beat Rafa that year, was just a fluke. Rafa was injured that year and had to pulled out of Wimbledon that year. Then when Rafa returned that year. It was pretty much like what happens these day. Rafa was being thumped by the guys in the top 10! Seriously, Nole is the more serious threat to Rafa(when he is ok) than the one fluke phony like Soderling.


Giles Says:

Murphy ain’t beating Ferrer on clay.


Humble Rafa Says:

Skeezer Says:
Surprised to see so many votes for Fed. Really?

Admit it. You voted that many times and then seem surprised. This only fools cats, not humans.


Rick Says:

Actually, French is pretty open this year. Especially with the way that Rafa is playing nowadays. I will go for Murray to win this year. And Kei being a surprise winner this yea. We’re all know how his coach Michael won his!


chris ford1 Says:

Sometimes draws just magically open up and a Bartoli wins.
There is a glimmer of a chance for Ferru.
If he takes Murray and in the meantime (if they both make it…) Nole and Rafa trash each other like they did in Madrid 2009 right before Rafa lost the FO and Nole nose dived for many months….David has a decent semis chance against the Nole-Rafa survivor a a grueling 5-setter.
And should he get that far, I like the Little Beast over anyone in the other half of the draw.
Who would honestly be angry that an inspiring pro’s pro finally had his big day in the sun in the twilight of his career??
It would be another Bartoli.

Add if Nole beats Rafa in a close one, and falls because he has nothing left, many will toot that “Nole failed again”…but he would then be the only player to beat Nadal at all the major clay events.


Giles Says:

cf1. Still FOS!!


Daniel Says:

chris ford1, c’mon!! As much as you don’t like Federer, do you really thing Ferrer, who never beat Fed once in his entire career, would beat him in a French Open final should Federer (not having to face any of the Big 4) get that far.

Bit$% Please!!! :-)


sienna Says:

Djokovic deserves a careerslam.
if he does grandslam is still on.
that would bring him on par with Sampras Nadal.

I saw him in Rotterdam 2007 talk of the tournement. He is special. and hè is.


sienna Says:

but in dont think its gonna happen.

they all have their White whale.
He will find his just like 2011.and it aint Nadal but semi where he spills his chance.

the let down of winning nadalmatch….


Margot Says:

Andy is playing the clay court tennis of his life. Ferrer is getting close to his sell by date. Some very bold, not to say a tad premature, predictions on here.
Que sera.


sienna Says:

Ofcourse deserves only when he wins it.

You cannot deserve something without winning it. So ….. The saga continues.


Daniel Says:

Agree Margot, Ferrer seems running out of fumes this days and Murray learned that he shouldn’t be losing to “lesser” players. I think he is safe in semis and from that kn anything can happen.


Humble Rafa Says:

I was worried the Egg Lover was going to win the French. Now that Jinxer the Great has picked him, I feel at ease.


chris ford1 Says:

Giles troll – Who would have predicted Bartoli or Cilic??
These good things can happen to non superstar athletes if they play their best and get lucky..
And why not a possibility for the hardest working man in tennis, David Ferrer?
And I happen to agree with Margot..the end of Ferrer as a top 10 player is well nigh near as those in the UK may say. So if it ever happens for David, it will be this year or the next.


Wog Boy Says:

CF1,

Do you really talk to the person that spends most it’s time in Rafa’s backside checking up on his hemoroides and when it is out of his back side (very short periods) comes on TX without having a shower and stinks so badly that I have to open windows here, thousands kilometers away.


viki Says:

“If Nadal decides to reach quaterfinal, i give him 50 percent chance of winning the Djokovic match”.

Following Nadal career i have found pattern in everything and i think because of his “obsessive compulsive problem”.
1. If he is losing match, he will fake injury or will take medical time out. I think when he used first time, it works and then he sticks to it because of his “obsessive compulsive problem”.
2. If he is not feeling that he can’t beat his main opponents, he will loose before that only so that other person should not get the accolade of beating him. “Because of this reason i saying if he decides to reach quaterfinal”.
3. He likes to be Dark Horse wants to remain under the radar which is not possible at Rolland Garros but for last three seasons he is following the pattern of showing that he may not win French Open this time and every time he comes up with peak fitness “with his forehand firing all cylenders”.

Last year, he gave all the indication to world that he is having back problem and not having good form. He still wins.

P.S. I thank AO crowd to boo him last year for his Back problem i think because of that only Wawrinka won that final and Nadal needs to keep that drama till FO. After that he is having other issues but not the back problem.

After above thing also i am giving him only 50 percent change because Djokovic is improved himself with lob, drop shot and coming onto the net this time and i think these things are required for him to beat Nadal. Finger Cross Djokovic drop shots work this time.


Michael Says:

Seemingly at hindsight, it does appear that Novak’s route to the finals is the toughest. But, a caveat here is that the toughest of draws may become the easiest ones with elimination of the toughest players in the initial rounds and that might well repeat. It is really a pity that the showdown between the two best Clay court players should happen prematurely at the quarter finals stage which would virtually become the finals and rob the spectator of a marquee and fitting finale. Just the withdrawal of Raonic aided this showdown. But since it has turned this way, you have no other option but to accept it. Right now, taking into consideration the respective form of the players, Novak will hold a convenient edge over Rafa. But, you just cannot be certain as Rafa has an incredible record over here never to be beaten except by a player named Soderling in the last 10 years and you can just imagine the kind of domination he had over here which is unparalleled in the history of the sport. He is held in such awe and respect on his surface where he is the God. Even today, if there is any player who can stop him on Clay at Rolland Garros, it can only be Novak. He did that nearly in 2013 when Rafa escaped by the skin of his teeth and he would like to replicate a similar match here if not better completely outclassing Rafa as he did recently at Monte Carlo. Novak can certainly do it as his confidence is running sky high and he has this sense of belief that he cannot lose that can take you places. Only hitch here is that he should not become complacent due to spilling over of too much confidence.

Apart from these two, the competition just doesn’t end and I do not think Roger can reach the finals. I have go with Nishikori or even Berdych to reach that stage. Novak will fancy Berdych more than Nishikori in the final stages just because his record against the former is much more imposing than the later. Berdych is literally Novak’s bunny.

So, I feel the time has come for Novak to lift the Rolland Garros trophy this year despite the competitive line up he is saddled with in his earnest bid to usurp the crown that is eluding all along his career.


viki Says:

@ Michael
Everybody favouring Djokovic over Nadal, But what if it’s all the strategy by Nadal camp to downplay his chances and not allow his opponents to adjust to his aggressive game by not playing it.
I think if Nadal decides to play close to baseline then i think until now all things are being done as a strategy and this thing Federer and Djokovic also knows.
Djokovic need that drop shot to disrupt Nadal rythem to win it.

As far as ranking goes, Nadal does not need it at FO. There is only one guy who he needs to beat and all other pieces of the puzzle will be put at right places for him if he is able to do it.


Michael Says:

Viki,

Let me repeat for the umpteenth time.

“Do not ever make the mistake of taking Rafa lightly here on account of his recent reverses. He is totally a different animal at Rolland Garros and his record speaks for itself”

Caution should be the watch word for Novak. Rafa is a pretty dangerous player. You can never know when he will pick up his form on the court and if he does manage to revive it, it is pretty tough to beat him here. Remember the 2013 finals when Novak did manage to put Rafa on the back foot in the fifth set and yet the later came out with such an aggressive mindset that he became pretty difficult to dismantle and in the end poured cold water over Novak’s ambitions. So, nothing is certain. Going by the present form, Novak seems to be holding the edge right now and Rafa is looking pretty downcast as he was never before approaching Rolland Garros and so will that prove to be the difference this time around ? Let us wait and watch !!

I will be very keen to watch this quarter final encounter between Novak Vs Rafa and will switch on my TV Set well before 2 hours before the match.


Daniel Says:

This RG also has huge impact on GOAThood of Fed, Nadal and even Djoko.

1 – If Fed wins it (not at all oit of possibility with the way the draw played out) he will have 18. Nadal basically will have to win at least 4 more to tie and he will only play 3 nore Slams before tunring 30. Also Nadal will be Slamless for the first time since don’t know when.

2 – If Nadal wins it, move to 15 2 shy of Federer and will stop the bleeding of last months putting himself in contentio again for other majors and even for RG next year. He will get super human because once again even playig poorly for months when the time comes jn his turf he would come out victorious.

3 – If Djoko wins it, gets 9th Slam, career Slam, 3 of the last 4 and 2 this year hyping him to stratosphere and possible Calendar Slam in 2015. Suddenly getting close to Nadal’s 14 won’t be out of possibility specially of he wins at least one more this year finishing 2015 with doible digits Slams.

This tourney can shape the future for this 3 all time
Greats for good.

Fed will always have Wimbleodn around the corner as his potentially last shot to go to 18th. Nadal and Djoko will still be hunters.

4 Option. If Murray wins it. than he will also going for Career Slam everyte henolays Australia, a tourney he was runner up 4 times. He goes to 3 Slams and suddebly possibility to challenge Novak for this year #1. He will make things more interesting and stop the Novak show this year.

That’s why I love Slams, specially in this age we are seeing this all time greats play for history all the time. Awesome!!!


Margot Says:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/may/22/andy-murray-usual-suspects-french-open-glory

In this interview Andy talks about 4xK. Really rates him. I like him too :)
Andy practises with him a lot.


sienna Says:

Rafa pulled out of wimbly 09 1 hour after draw was made known.
He was scheduled to play Hewitt 2 and round andthe found it impossible to navigate that draw.

Prior to that decision he just successfuly player practice match where he was not in trouble fysically.

Just the toughness of his draw and the probability that Fed would be waiting on Sunday should they navigate draw was enough to pull out, weeks later he played the remainer of the year.


Giles Says:

May 22nd 9.05 pm. Typical classy joker fan. NOT!!


Markus Says:

Interesting that some posters here try to downgrade the significance of the majors as a measuring stick for greatness yet here they are, weeks and even months before the French Open and they couldn’t stop talking about it, even projecting even further to Wimbledon. There goes the argument against the slams as the only true measure of greatness.


Adam Says:

So MU-CH
for a
FEDAL
Final
I’m going for MUrray v BerdyCH

Nadal beats Novak
Murray beats Nadal
Berdych beats Federer

And finally Murray beats Berdych in the final.
It’s gonna happen.


TL Says:

Djoko has the easiest route to the qf. Heck, based on his incredible run and form, it is hard to envisage a tough draw for him just like it was for Fed at wimby/uso or Raf at RG at their peak. He deserves the tag of the heavy favorite for this year although he probably would have beaten Raf in 2011 had they met in the final. Raf has had bad losses on clay this year and it could actually be better for Djoko to meet him in the qf than in the sf or final. The longer Raf stays in the event, the better his chances of gaining confidence. I think Djo would be under lesser pressure in a qf than in a final vs Raf. In fact, I think Djo probably would have found Wawa or Nishi a bit more difficult to handle than Raf although they have been pretty inconsistent too. That is obviously based on Raf’s recent form. Of course, it would be very different if Raf can find his high level consistently.

The talk of a potential sf vs Murray seems premature and even if that were to materialize, I don’t see Murray causing much trouble. As much as I like Murray, his best chance vs Djo is in quicker conditions unless Raf and Djo play an eight hour marathon. I think Djo would likely handle Raf relatively easily. I am surprised no one took notice of the “dead balls” comment Fed made. These balls favor Raf and Djoko way more than Murray or Fed. I also think we shouldn’t read too much into Murray’s recent clay results. Madrid and RG have very different conditions. Sure, Murray is gifted enough to adapt and find a way to the sf but that is my best-case scenario for him.

Raf’s draw seems a bit tough because he certainly does not want to play Djo that early. Nico could be a challenge too although I don’t see any other obstacles in his path before the qf.

Nishi has a rough draw with potentially some tough matches in the first three rounds. Berd could meet Fognini in the third round and that would be a fun match. He seems a somewhat safe bet to reach the qf. Fed would have navigated through this draw rather easily during his glory days and any draw which does not see him facing Raf before the final has to be termed a good one. However, his problem now is that he loses to all kinds of players. His results at RG the last two times have been poor. I can’t look beyond Granollers and certainly not beyond Monfils who has recently beaten Fed rather handily on clay in the DC tie and at MC. Fed didn’t win a single set in these two matches. If the weather forecasts hold and, given the “dead” balls, Fed seems on his way out in the fourth round. If he somehow survives, I can’t see him out-grinding Wawa, Nishi or Berd in these conditions in a best of five match.

Having said all that, the matches are played for a reason and the actual outcomes often make a mockery of the predictions. Let the play begin.


van orten Says:

Federer is number Two in the world…and destroyed a few good players last Week in rome …just saying


Tennis Vagabond Says:

I agree that QF is better for Novak. The road to RG goes through Rafa, and I think the longer Rafa has to gain momentum and mojo, the worse for anyone on the other side.


jalep Says:

The top half quarterfinals are very predictable; of course anything is possible it tennis, after all. (why it’s fun to follow)

Nole v Rafa
Murray v Ferrer

The bottom half has more possible surprises in the rounds prior to quarterfinals than the top half, imho.

My first reaction to looking over the bottom half was:

Kei v Berdych
Federer v Wawrinka

But the mind starts twisting the lead up to the quarters around. Maybe it’s really too far up in the air with possibilities. Federer could lose earlier than the quarters to LaMonf, ect, same with the three others on their way to make it there.

If both get there, I favor Kei over Berdych for reasons of Kei being the smarter player over 5 sets, even though it is advantage Berdych as to power. It’s going to be a tough fight, I think.

At any rate how the bottom half quarters turn out, I pick the winner of this French Open from the top half. I think Andy Murray and Ferrer will go the distance quite possibly, even if it doesn’t, Ferrer has shown signs of losing a step this spring, while Andy has developed into a Force on clay! :D

Nole v Rafa. Not sure what I think. What I want is for Nole to win, win, win! But I have suspicions about Rafa holding a card not yet played. Team Nadal has shown over the years to hold back a surprise or two and nothing would surprise me about Rafa winning the quarterfinal.

Then it comes down to who is strongest after the two tough quarterfinals. Since I think Murray is in top form, as we saw in Madrid, he’ll outlast and outplay Ferrer.

Semi will be Andy Murray v Nole or Rafa. Since I firmly think the FO winner will be one of the above three, it won’t matter so much who comes through the lower half.

Completely disagree with underestimating Andreas Murray-Murrano on clay! He a transformed man after marrying darling Kim :)


jalep Says:

And before I forget, Congratulations to the winners today in Strasbourg, Nurembert, Geneva, and Nice!

Stoser – Strasbourg
Knapp (Italy) – Nuremberg

Bellucci – Beautiful Geneva
Thiem! – Nice

…and I’m forgetting where Bellucci has landed in the FO draw but he’s on a hot streak. Thiem is a dangerous man potentially as well.


chris ford1 Says:

So if it does come down to Rafa almost or fully back in form arriving at the QFs and meeting Djokovic, and Nole beats him only to be exhausted and lose to Muzz or someone in the lucky bottom half – would the FO be a failure? Or would finally beating Rafa give him even more creds as a great player?


jane Says:

it would mean novak has beaten federer and rafa at all the slams, but without the french open title in hand, novak might consider it a failure of sorts. perhaps a pyrrhic victory? it’d be a lucky break for everyone left in the draw, too. like when soda took out rafa but didn’t win the title. at least he made the final.


Giles Says:

So many pundits on here and surprise surprise all joker fans. Lol


jalep Says:

Chris Ford1

No. I wouldn’t consider the FO itself a failure at all. I’d be disappointed as a Nole fan if he loses to Rafa or anyone.

But if Andy Murray reaches the semi’s, I’ll be excited for him because he’ll have a great chance to win the French Open!

To me Nole is a great player win or lose regarding this potential meeting with Rafa. He’s won enough v Rafa on clay or any surface. My hope is for Nole to win FO.

Even if Murray loses to someone from the bottom half: Kei, Berdych, Wawrinka, Federer, whoever; I’ll be happy for the winner!

But regardless of the winner being someone other than Nole or Rafa, I wouldn’t write either off from winning FO again next year. Take a lesson from Federer. Tennis isn’t over at age 29 or 30 in the present time of improved fitness, training practices, and rehab methods which have added a margin of longevity to the sport.


jane Says:

good points jalep, and i agree: it’s not like it’s now or never for novak. he plans to play a few more years. no reason he couldn’t have another go next year.


jalep Says:

Thanks jane. I put my thinking cap on sometimes.

My pleasure to make you lol, Giles.


Colin Says:

It’s all very well to say Rafa will lay it on the line and give his all, but does anyone think he wasn’t doing that in the Madrid final? His basic technique deserted him to the point where he was smiling in disbelief at his own errors. How often has he done that?

No doubt the Madrid court plays differently from others, but surely Rafa has enough experience to adapt.

Michael, watch that word “literally”. I haven’t noticed Berdych growing long furry ears!


Okiegal Says:

@Colin……I was totally shocked to see Rafa smiling too. He doesn’t do that very often. You are right, I too believe he was giving his all. We will see how it all plays out.

Do it again for #10!! Go Rafa!!!


Zozza Says:

Djokovic if he beats Nadal
Murray Federer in this years French open
He will win Wimbledon plus US open
4 in one year
On current form who says he can’t do it ?

If he does do it ?
Not gonna be easy but if he should win all four majors this Year ???
Well then he is the real GOAT 👏👏👏

Djokovic is better than in 2011 many believe ?
We will see in two weeks
Best match of tournament will not be Nadal vs Djokovic coz the serbinator will win that Easy on current form
The best match will be Murray vs Djokovic
Murray might be the hardest to beat on current clay court fom

Djokovic the GOAT if he wins 4 slams In 2015
He came close to winning 4 in 2011 until Federer stopped him at the French open
Nadal was not gonna beat Djokovic in 2011 he wasn’t playing great & was mental wreck vs Djokovic

This is the year of Djokovic the TRUE GOAT

All this from Nadal’s number 1 supporter


sienna Says:

Zosoa
In order to be GOAT.
a player must at least have one stand alone record for either weeks #1, slam win or as you now entered the grandslam.

Which one is Djokovic?


Bertie Says:

Tennis seems to not like following the script, and perhaps if Nadal had been drawn in a different half to Djokovic, we would not have seen them play each other. Obviously anything is possible, but I do not see this making any difference to Djokovic. He will beat Nadal, no matter when he plays him. Nadal would have to do something nearly unheard of to win at the moment. He has no confidence, he has all the pressure, he now knows he has to play the best player in the world by a country mile, much earlier than he would have liked, even in his best case scenario. The hardest match Djokovic will play is Murray in the semis. Personally I think the stumbling block to Djokovic winning The Grand Slam in either Wimbledon or the US not RG.


Bertie Says:

Saying all that, I would love to see Murray surprise everyone, with his French female coach and win it, then win Wimby. Ah, but that is entering the realms of fantasy land, perhaps :-)


jane Says:

i wonder where katH went? or hippie chic. so many posters coming and going lately!


Giles Says:

Bertie. Lol Lol. All the pressure is on joker to win his first FO, not Nadal. Nadal is sitting with NINE FO titles. Nobody will ever match this feat and then we have joker struggling to win his first. So, tell me again, who has the most pressure?


Giles Says:

Zozzzaaaaaa. You make a fool of yourself every time you post joker fan!


Giles Says:

jalep. I like a good laugh now and then! That’s good, keep it up.


Giles Says:

https://twitter.com/genny_ss/status/602412429394456577
Zozzzaaa. Read this tweet which is in reply to a question if Joan Forcades is still Rafa’s physical trainer. He still is Rafa’s physical trainer! Very recently you posted a comment saying he had left due to Uncle T refusing him a pay rise. It is obvious you were lying. Have no idea why but yu did lie. You should retract your statement. You really are a vile person!!!


zozza Says:

Giles

winning 4 grand slams in one year ???

has anyone done it ?

if djokovic can do it this year why shouldn’t he be considered the GOAT ?

no one else has done it


zozza Says:

sienna

If djokovic can win all 4 slams this year ?

that’s enough to be considered the true GOAT !

PEOPLE don’t understand that I want nadal to win French open BUT how can he when his form is so miserable right now ?

If nadal reaches the quarter final … how can he beat djokovic in his current form ?

it could be straight sets to djokovic …


Markus Says:

Let’s not cross the bridge until we get there.


zozza Says:

GILES

GARY ROY posted that on ATP website

I just read his post since he is number nadal fan why should he make up such things ??????????


zozza Says:

Giles Says:
https://twitter.com/genny_ss/status/602412429394456577
Zozzzaaa. Read this tweet which is in reply to a question if Joan Forcades is still Rafa’s physical trainer. He still is Rafa’s physical trainer! Very recently you posted a comment saying he had left due to Uncle T refusing him a pay rise. It is obvious you were lying. Have no idea why but yu did lie. You should retract your statement. You really are a vile person!!!

how can this abuse be allowed ?
no moderator


Okiegal Says:

@Jane……Regarding posters…..where did all of the new ones come from?? Chic said she was taking a break, a permanent one. I said I was too, but I have trouble keeping my fingers shut when comments are made that ruffles this old hen’s feathers!! Lol There are some unkind words said on here that can be hurtful…..just saying…..

I wonder what the weather is looking like for gay Pairee? It’s been raining in Oklahoma for days. Lots of flooding going on. It’s rained so much I saw a fish wearing a life jacket…..some humor for Giles! Lol


Okiegal Says:

Under moderation, last comment, why??


Markus Says:

This is a tennis blog. Therefore, just like the game, there is poor officiating and everybody is free to break the rules.


Giles Says:

Zozazuzeezo. You’re nuts and that is the bottom line.


KatH Says:

@ Jane

I got so bored with the Open Era debates that I said Cheers/Au revoir/Bye – but couldn’t resist a wee detour to TX today and saw your comment.

Keep well, and hope U all enjoy the tennis (the Kei match was the only one that gripped me – 2nd set in particular).


jalep Says:

KatH. I posted to you that day on that thread. I was feeling your pain. But that stuff is typical for a slow week. Hope you don’t give up here.

And yes wasn’t Kei all class today and respectful v veteran Paul-Henri. Mattieu.

Watching Ivanovic match now. She lost 1st set 46 but is off on a flier up 52 2nd set!


jalep Says:

The most gripping interesting match of last week and perhaps the best final I’ve seen in a 250 atp event was the Nice final! Worthy of it’s own thread imo. Certainly far more interesting than weak era debates or goat argument stuff. My opinion.


jane Says:

i saw it was super close jalep, but unfortunately i didn’t catch the match.


jalep Says:

For starters jane, L. Mayer’s lefty serve, particularly out wide one to either court hadn’t been broken all week. He was pulling his opponents off court with their ROS attempts and just pummeling the returns. Mayer was also defending well and pressuring servers.

Thiem showed that maturity and calm of a seasoned champion. He lost the 1st set 67, but the TB was tight! Thiem didn’t give up. Mayer was the better player most of the 2nd set. Felt like a straight set win for the 28 yr old Argentine. Thiem was determined stayed attempting to get points on the Mayer serve, plus did a great job holding his own serve under pressure. Finally Dom broke Mayer and won 2nd set 75.

Decider was more of the same! But like the 1st set, no breaks of serve. The TB was tight again but this time luck and sheer will paid off 76 Thiem. A Magnificent 1st atp first title for 21 yr old Austrian.


KatH Says:

Gotya Jalep. Taa.


jalep Says:

Stick around KatH. Taa…to you too (not sure what that means in British English) :○


jane Says:

what a great recap jalep; thanks for sharing. a while back tignor did an interesting piece on thiem. if you didn’t read it, here’s the link:

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2015/05/apprentice/54896/#.VWIFyyn4tHi

i always thought “ta” meant thank-you but i’ve not seen it with 2 “a”s.


jalep Says:

Haha thanks jane. I’m stI’ll so wound up when I try to describe it that I stutter and can’t type fast enough = repetition+ mistakes.

I’ll read Tignor’s link about Thiem. It’s takin him awhile but that was the performance I’ve been waiting for.

Okay, I’ve read Margot using ta. That Taa was a typo.

Meanwhile, this GGL v Johnson match is taking 5 sets…I think Johnson thought he had GGL on the ropes. Oops, takes 5 sets in a GS sometimes.


KatH Says:

You are amazing You guys – you got me thinking again /(and commenting!!!) :

Answers: “Ta” is the internet slang word.

The Urban Dictionary: “Taa” = Thanks.

Both are correct.


jalep Says:

Really enjoy reading Tignor, jane. I think he explains the situation in the atp, “Tennis has never required such an extended and intensive apprenticeship.”

And he compares Thiem to Wawrinka. Agree there too. Not the flash and obvious weaponry of Kyrgios or style of Dimitrov but Dom is slowly and steadily building his game, with a realistic approach, seeing it as needing to go through a process. However, wow did Dom show confidence and an iron will in that Nice final!


jalep Says:

Really enjoy reading Tignor, jane. I think he explains the situation in the atp, “Tennis has never required such an extended and intensive apprenticeship.”

And he compares Thiem to Wawrinka. Agree there too. Not the flash and obvious weaponry of Kyrgios or style of Dimitrov but Dom is slowly and steadily building his game, with a realistic approach, seeing it as needing to go through a process. However, wow did Dom show confidence and an iron will in that Nice final!


jalep Says:

Oops. Double post. Time for me to get back to the real world :D


jalep Says:

Ta KatH! See you around ;)


jane Says:

“ta” is in the oxford dictionary (among other professional vetted ones):

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ta#TA

“ta-ta” is as well (mean sort of like goodbye)

“taa” seems to be only in the urban dictionary; an up-voting source for slang lexicon.


sienna Says:

zosiao
you are used to internet

google grandslam tennis
Im sure you find the ander.


sienna Says:

answer


mat4 Says:

@jalep:

Just seen your post. I missed it somehow. I am so glad.


KatH Says:

Jane

Please see http://www.scots-on-line.org. Wir Ain Leed Scots orthography.
Alternatively see The Concise English Scots Dictionary 1993 and Scottish School Dictionary 1996 (for standardised spelling). (Spellings are based on historic rules of orthography.

Given that Scots’ Dictionaries usually record a variation of spellings in common use the result is that writers using a mixture of spellings reflect historic, regional, accidental and idiosyncratic variants.

My father was a “Lowlander” my mother a “Highlander — the Lowlander won.

“Relatively recently” fraught with difficulty, a body was set up to host a public Meeting at A.K. Bell Library in Perth to look into and develop a “standard” Scots orthography (forget the Concise Oxford Dictionary – they’d need another 1000 different issues to cover the subject).

Given that Scots spelling is geared for the convenience of native speakers—–(not sure which country is yours), but if you want to spend a lifetime researching from where the Scots orginate – you’ll need a history of the world spanning many generations, e.g.
Warrack’s Scots Dialect Dictionary + 10 volume Scots National Dictionary. Other references (if you haven’t gone to sleep:
Hugh MacDiarmid indicated on political and literary grounds that “for a nation to regain its soul it must also regain its language.”
Billy Kay (1986 + 1993 “The Mither Tongue”.

And don’t let’s forget Rabbie Burns and “his timorous beastie”……

Bet you didn’t expect this dissertation – shan’t do it again. Taa and Ta – whatever you choose.
Hugs


jane Says:

thanks katH. very interesting details!

Top story: Federer v Zverev, Djokovic v Anderson At ATP Finals Saturday