Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The French Open?
by Sean Randall | May 23rd, 2017, 4:37 pm

We are just days away from the release of the French Open draw. With Rafael Nadal secured in the Top 4, the only drama with the draw is what side Nadal lands on, Andy Murray’s or Novak Djokovic’s. Maybe Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev quarter match-ups are also intriguing, otherwise, it’s Nadal’s show and he’s my clear pick to win No. 10.

Here are my favorites:
1. Rafael Nadal – Once again dominated the clay season and, as if he needs the help, someone will have to beat him best-of-5! Not sure if Thiem can do that.

2. Novak Djokovic – I put Novak second only because he’s got Andre Agassi in his corner now. And if Andre can re-attach Novak’s head to his body, then Djokassi could be in business.

3. Andy Murray – So he’s been horrific of late but I think the first week easy draws should build his confidence back up and my gut tells me he’ll be back playing on that final Friday. (Though last year remember he went 5 sets with Stepanek and the Bourgue?)

4. Stan Wawrinka – Forget the lead-ups (he doesn’t care), if he can get through the first week unscathed he too might be around that last weekend and could win the title for a second time.

5. Dominic Thiem – Probably the best clay courter behind Rafa and he made the semifinals in Paris last year and just beat Nadal. But in Slams he has no Top 20 wins of note and we saw how he laid an egg against Djokovic in Rome.

6. Alexander Zverev – Like Thiem, I’m still waiting for the big Slam best-of-5 win, but boy did he look good last week in Rome. Quick, dry courts will help his power game, I just wonder if he goes five sets early if that will hurt him later on in the event. I know Thiem is fit for five, but is Zverev?

Best of the rest:
Juan Martin Del Potro – Healthy, rested, will be seeded but will probably draw Verdasco to play Coric to play Nadal. Can you tennis Gods please give this guy a break?
Kei Nishikori – Just one QF in six trips makes the French his worst Slam, which is a surprise given his game. But, still dangerous if he’s healthy and that backhand is humming.
David Goffin – Seems to be more of a hardcourt player of late, but I think one day could make the last four in Paris.
Pablo Cuevas – If things really open up, the Uruguayan could certainly make a deep run, that is until the nerves hit.
Jack Sock – The best American on clay once took a set off Nadal in Paris and he’s made at least the third round the last three years.

Again, if the weather is dry and hot, that should help the power players. And especially at the French, I think top guys benefit from the best-of-5 format. That said, if we do get a rash of upsets like Australia, then someone like a Theim or even a Zverev could be the champion in three weeks.

So it feels like the winner is coming from the top group of Nadal-Djokovic-Murray-Stan. But then who would have believed almost five months into the season Nadal and Roger Federer would be No. 1 and No. 2 in the points race. So anything can happen.

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78 Comments for Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The French Open?

RZ Says:

I would agree that these are the top 6, but I would order them this way:
1) Nadal
2) Djokovic
3) Thiem
4) Wawrinka
5) Zverev
6) Murray

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Nadal and Novak are clear 1 and 2, though there is a huge gap between them. Wawrinka is next- he’s done it, and he’s shown he doesn’t have to be on a roll to do it. Then Zverev and Thiem.

I don’t think Murray or Del Potro have much of a shot. Kyrgios might be an upset maker.

Is this the first Slam in which we’ve talked about this generation (Zverev/Thiem) as having a legit shot?

Markus Says:

I’m stuck on Nadal. Nobody else comes to mind.

Wog Boy Says:

Thiem all the way.

chrisford1 Says:

Rafais number one and it may be poor Rafa is being set up for a “Shocker!!” by expectations.
Djokovic, but he isn’t remotely like the superforce of last spring that could and has beat Rafa on clay before or lost an “either guy deserved to be winner”, when both guys played well. #2. And honestly, even with prime years Novak playing great clay matches, if it is against Rafa, it was still odds to Rafa except when hurt…
Andy, because he proved in 2015 and 2016 he can excel on clay, get to QFs and above most times. 3rd most likely, IMO.

a gap like there is between odds for Rafa then Novak and the rest between 3 and 4.

4. Delpo. He’s had a fine comeback. He seems to want to marshall himself and only hit at 100% power in the “Big Ones”. He did that at the Olympics. He might at Paris or Wimbledon. When he is like that, he can beat anyone.

5. Thiem, has the experience getting titles, the prize money pressure more than Zverev, yet has.

6. Stan. Depends on what Stan shows up. It hasn’t been a stellar year for Stan, though.

7. He won’t be on many people’s lists, but I ‘ll go with David Goffin. A good draw, a couple upsets..it could happen. I put him here because I like to see the guy play.

8. Split it between Zverev, Dimitrov, Nishikori, the forgotten men.Oh, is Raonic healthy again, or was that sooooo last week??

J-Kath Says:

There’s several articles saying “Andy is looking for his form” – Margot please check your shed.

I do like wee David Goffin – and everyone is entitled to their own opinion – mine is: I doubt the stars will ever align to take him thru to actually winning a Grand Slam.

Wog Boy Says:

I suggest that Andy and Nole together trace their movements in the last couple of months (in Nole’s case more then couple of months) and try to find where have they dropped their form…they might check “lost and found properties” too…maybe somebody has founded their dropped form and reported it..

Wog Boy Says:

“has found” :((

skeezer Says:

I think the more exciting story would be if Rafa by chance gets upset, THEN who is your pick?

I could see Z, Theim at that point possibly getting through to a final. But as long as Rafa is going through the draw, I mean really, who is gonna beat his experience on Clay @ an event he has won a gazillion times. Soderling doesn’t play anymore….

Berghain Says:

Sup Wog and VP, sorry I have no time atm so I hope you forgive mw for it. I got a feeling your man will take this one – fingers crossed!

Did you see Twin Peaks has returned? its a great show, check it out if you both have time. Gruss!

Berghain Says:

Talking about David Lynch… this sound track hits that melancholic G-spot in so meany ways…
Loving it.
Ill bw around for the French I hope WG, then we can catch up.

Good to see u 2 still here. Was worried this was becoming a bread and cheese forun :P – funny Novak Club.

JM01 Says:

Rafa is the clear favourite, best player so far this season and in best of five on clay, don’t see anybody taking him out in his current form. Rafa will win it by probably dropping 3 sets along the way.

Kimberly Says:

He will try to downplay his chances but based on current form in 2017 Rafa is a pretty heavy favorite followed by djokovic and outside of those two i can’t envision another.

But Rafa has not won a grand slam in three years and djokovic so many that perhaps deep in a slam Novak has more of a chance.

But I’m picking Rafa because I want him to win and because I believe he has muscle memory of how to win the French

Margot Says:

Rafa then Nole. Hoping Sascha, Naughty Nick and Dom make some huge waves.
As for Andy miraculously “finding his form” well I’ll believe it when I see it.
I’ve looked in my shed Kath but it’s not there :( Perhaps he left it in Dubai?

Van Persie Says:

Hello Berghain,

Nice to “see” you again :)

“I got a feeling your man will take this one – fingers crossed!”- no great expectations from me at this FO, will watch the matches very, very relaxed. Let’s see if you are right ;)

Love David Lynch and watched the 1 episode from 2017 “Twin Peaks” season on Monday, but it is not the same anymore….
BTW “Lost highway” is my fave from Lynch. Good soundtrack too: Rammstein, D. Bowie, NIN, usw…

AndyMira Says:

@Miss Jan,Willow,Giles and other Rafans…here’s a good article for u guys..


LUCY Says:

Rafa is the clear favourite but you never know, with the draw!
I still have a feeling that both Murray and Djoko will reach the latter stages. The best of 5 sets is a whole lot different from the 3-setters. My picks for the latter stages would be:
Nadal, Murray, Djokovic, Thiem and Zverev, with perhaps a couple of French players like Tsonga and Simon thrown in….

J-Kath Says:

Wogboy: “…maybe somebody has found their dropped form and reported it..”
Maybe a couple “chancers” found their dropped form and are using it.

Margot: I also thought about -behind your settee- …..alas, clutching at straws…..except that Lucy’s comment above strikes a sliver of hope.

Wog Boy Says:

Might be, never thought about that:)

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Current betting odds. Murray is too high! Should be between Zverev and DelPo.

Nadal – 5/6

Djokovic – 10/3

Thiem – 10/1

Murray – 12/1

Wawrinka – 12/1

Zverev – 14/1

Del Potro – 50/1

Nishikori – 50/1

Goffin – 50/1

Markus Says:

^^ or at level with Del Potro, Nishikori and Goffin at 50/1…or even lower. At the rate Murray is going, he will be out in the first week. Thiem cannot beat Djokovic and Nadal back to back. His best is beating only one of them. He is a door opener for somebody else just like what he did for Zverev at the Italian Open.

Margot Says:

And exactly what has Stan done lately?

Margot Says:

And JMDP just lost in 2 sets to Elias.
To me JMDP’s fitness and his backhand are highly questionable.
Best of 5 aint easy.

RZ Says:

@TV and Markus – keep in mind that those setting the odds take into account factors like current ranking, recent slam wins, etc., so Andy’s place as the #1 ranked player and the current Wimbledon titlist and last year’s FO runner up will bump up his odds. There’s also the likelihood that a lot of (mostly British) people are going to bet on Andy winning, so if he does actually win, they don’t want to bankrupt themselves with a huge payout.

J-Kath Says:

Betting odds are off the radar for Del Potro, Goffin and Nishikori.

The finalists are Rafa vs. Nole if they are in different halves. However, our views and also those of Betting shops don’t really mean much until the draw.

Markus Says:

Got it, RZ. Unfortunately, Murray’s game is currently in shambles. It has been like that since the Australian and it seems to be getting worse. I put more hope on Djokovic although I still cannot figure out what happened to him at the Italian finals. He did not even put up a fight, or at least it looks like that to me.

Willow Says:

I Can only see three possible winners, i dont buy that any player can take three sets off Rafa or Novak, Stan has done it before, and reserves the best for GS, the lead ups mean nothing when its Stan, Murray i would love to say he has a legitimate shot, but hes nothing nothing on clay this season, Zeverev and Thiem have huge talent but as i say i dont think either can beat an elite player over BO5, and possibly 2 elite players B2B, and i doubt Kyrigios can be consistent enough over 2 weeks ….

Willow Says:

To add Delpo could be a dark horse if he goes deep into the second week navigating through the draw, depends on his fitness and stamina ….

I Would have Halep or maybe Pliskova on the womens side with Serena and Sharapova out, and i think Venus has played well, and so could be a dark horse ….

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Willow, I think you’re right in terms of relative strength coming in, but I wouldn’t count out Zverev and THiem, because of the Rome Scenario: you don;t need to beat Novak and Rafa B2B, if you have help.

In Rome, Thiem beat Rafa then sputtered. Zverev then beat Novak for the cup.

Zverev ‘only’ had to beat Raonic and Isner, and then have one all-star performance.

So, when you have Thiem, Zverev, Stan, Kyrgios, and Del Potro as potential upset-makers, there is always the chance for a surprise finals.

For that matter, Rafa and Novak could meet in the semis- someone could make the finals from the weak side, and then just need one big win, possibly against an exhausted titan.

LUCY Says:

Can’t believe people would think that Zverev or Delpo have a better chance than Murray! People have short memories….
Murray may have had a bad run, but he has history of clawing things back from the brink, particularly in the slams and has generally improved on clay over the last couple of years…
So yes, Murray has a lot to prove – but Zverev is inexperienced over 5 sets and Delpo isn’t quite there yet with his fitness.
The main reason Murray has faultered this year is a bout of shingles, which can be devastating on fitness and energy levels. It can take up to 9 months to recover fully, so the good news is that Murray should revive things over the next couple of months – and he now has Lendl back in his corner.
I still wouldn’t write him off just yet.

RZ Says:

@Lucy – for me it’s based purely on current form, which is why I placed Zverev higher than Murray (and I’m one of Murray’s biggest fans on this site). I just don’t think he’s over shingles or whatever else is ailing him yet.

I agree with you that DelPo shouldn’t be rated over Murray. DelPo hasn’t done much during this clay season.

Fiona Overton Says:

The best player for most of the 1960′s was actually Ken Rosewall, not Rod Laver. If he had been
allowed to play the slams as a professional he would probably have had a better record than

J-Kath Says:


Don’t really like the Daily Mail (is so anti Scottish) but this is about Tim Henman and Andy’s Shingles which I believe is the core of Andy’s current problem. Am encouraged by Lucy (once again) and RZ also. It is because of the nature of Shingles (believe me you don’t want a close colleague smitten or a family member – you never know where you are from one day to the next). Hence I reluctantly remain less confident about Andy’s ability to get back into form. I also hope Lendl doesn’t get too dismayed if Andy can’t respond as well as he might.

J-Kath Says:

PS: to Lucy – Shingles can recur out of the blue for an average 5 years – yes, today despite all our new treatments.

Markus Says:

Shingles can leave you with permanent (as in lifelong) excruciating pain (post-herpetic neuralgia- PHN) that can be dulled only by strong painkillers that will make a zombie out of you. If that is what is bothering Andy, it is not very good as it has been several months now. The longer the pain from PHN persists, the more likely it is going to be a chronic or permanent problem. It’s a scary time for Andy.

Wog Boy Says:


That applies for Rod Laver as well, he wasn’t allowed to play GS either, so what is your point?
On what ground you put Ken ahead of Rod, 8GS against 11GS, never won Wimbledon?
Ken was never considered better player than Rod…until now:)

J-Kath Says:


Yes. Although Shingles can mysteriously stop – and re-appear out of nowhere but at that stage is usually less debilitating. (Not had it myself but experienced it 2nd hand).

J-Kath Says:

Markus: Also occurred to me that medical support(ie medicine/pills for the condition – designed to support “improved well-being” maybe on the tennis “doping” list) – (caught between the devil and the devil).

RZ Says:

@J-Kath – thanks for the link. Such bad luck between the shingles and the elbow injury. This was supposed to be Andy’s year. :-(

Markus Says:

At this point, I will just content myself with what Murray has already accomplished: multiple majors, 2 Olympic golds, Davis Cup title and the number one ranking. Very few people can boast of the same credentials. I wish he could have more and it would be foolish to think he would not have more but it what ails him precludes further glory so be it. He should still be mighty proud. I just hope he will recover fully from post-herpetic neuralgia or whatever it is that ails him so he could have a healthy pain-free life with his family and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

J-Kath Says:

Thanks RZ: Unfortunately the elbow injury is likely to be related to general ill-health including elbow injury – shingles comes with all sorts of weaknesses.

Markus Says:

Shingles does not cause weakness. It causes pain from the sensory nerve endings being trapped in the scars from the shingles when it heals. Severe chronic pain from shingles have driven some people mad. It can lead to depression and suicide is not unusual among those afflicted.

J-Kath Says:

Marcus: It causes weakness because when you are having a bad day you can’t get comfortable and you can’t sleep – so you end up totally worn out.

Yes Margot – no mention in the Reuters article. I suppose Andy is confessing that he’s not playing well but not going into details. One day we’ll get the full story.

Colin Says:

Why the assumption that shingles is the cause of Andy’s poor form?

He has always been remarkably honest in interviews, and if shingles is the problem, I think he’d say so. However, he has said all along that he doesn’t know why he’s playing badly, and I believe him. It’s a mental issue, and he could sort it out quite quickly. Or not.

Willow Says:

People blame poor form on all number of things, the wife, the guru, shingles, knees, mono, wrist, back, mental issues, the list goes on, i think its just a case that other players are just better on the day, Novak is defending champion at the FO, Rafas right at home on clay, i have a feeling Andy is looking forward to the green, green, grass of home, where he excels mostly, the lead ups mean squat, its the GS that count, all bets are off ….

Markus Says:

I tend to agree with Colin and Willow. I don’t think Andy can play at all if he has post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) from shingles. The pain will be so unbearable that it will cause so much discomfort moving around in court with his clothes rubbing against the area of the PHN. I look at his face and movements when he plays and I don’t see the look of somebody experiencing physical pain.

Shingles does not cause weakness. Shingles refers to the acute skin lesions. It is when it heals and leaves scars that cause the problem called PHN. Weakness is not a symptom of PHN. Weakness is a non-specific symptom that can happen with any disease.

Markus Says:

Agree with Willow that all the lead ups to the majors mean squat. Nadal can win all the clay Masters but if he fails to win the French he will be majorly disappointed. The one who wins the French will be the happiest even if he won nothing of those lead up tournaments. No amount of Masters is greater than a single major title.

Willow Says:

Markus i expect the goal posts will shift, if player a) wins the FO without winning a CC warm up, those that were saying Masters were equally as important, probably wont think so anymore, go figure ….

Willow Says:

To add i hope that Nadal and Djokovic are on the same side of the draw, as it eliminates the possiblity of a final between them, unfortunatly though Murray and Djokovic wont be though, due to them being ranked 1 and 2 ….

Markus Says:

Name a player and I can tell you if he has won a major or not but I would not know if he has won a Masters, unless you are Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray and they all have won majors, I can even tell you how many majors they have won but not how many masters. The masters and all those tournaments are all good to win but they are merely consolation prizes when compared with the majors. If Djokovic or Murray wins the French, all those bad losses will disappear, including Murray’s shingles; Djokovic’s Pepe will become a saint and Jelene will be the ideal wife.

Bruce Says:

Nadal is a gentleman and should win.
Next is Thiem, a great new man.

madmax Says:

One word.


RZ Says:

@Margot – interesting that it’s a lack of motivation. I’m surprised considering I would have thought Andy would have desperately wanted to snag the Australian crown for once.

Colin Says:

I have nothing against Nole, and if he gets to the final, well done him and congratulations if he wins, even if it be against my fellow Brit. However, if a Djoker victory means credit will be given to that “guru” and his semi-mystical nonsense, I hope Nole loses in the first few days!

Margot Says:

RZ: Quite possibly at the AO he was actually ill. Perhaps “lack of motivation” happened later. I think it’s probably all jumbled up together anyway: you feel ill, you don’t do well, you think WTH am I bothering for and so on.

RZ Says:

@Markus – if nothing else, Andy is the Olympic singles GOAT (for now), being the only player to win 2 singles golds.

jane Says:

agree margot: it’s probably a confluence of things.

Truth Says:

Fed and his fans blamed mono for Fed losses to Djoker.
Now they say Kyrgios is just superior to Djoker.
In that case Kyrgios better win the U.S. Open and choke twice to Fed at Wimbledon…

When Djoker had real allergy that caused breathing difficulties, the “god” Fed and Fed fans said it was fake.
Real illness and real injuries caused real loss of energy and ability to concentrate in matches.
Not fake debility and fake year long mono in Fed’s 2008 losses.
Fed didn’t play Davis Cup grass semis, or win many 5 setters until his lap dogs played him and the old 2003-2006 clowns couldn’t be blamed for upsetting him (obviously, the clowns rarely beat him).

LUCY Says:

@ Markus: You make some very good points but whilst Shingles doesn’t cause ‘weakness’ per se, it can often cause severe fatigue. My husband had it and was wiped-out for 6 months and suffered really bad fatigue and depression too. It saps the life out of people and IF Andy is still suffering the effects, it may not just be limited to pain issues but also to the fatigue, which is hard to control. The drugs for it make people like zombies and would be impossible for an athlete to take.
I also read today that Murray now has an infection and is taking antibiotics, so that’s another bad sign of adrenal and immune system burn-out which could be attributable to shingles. It’s no picnic and I just hope he and his team make the right decisions….

J-Kath Says:

Marcus + Lucy, Margot, Jane et al

Apart from my recent colleague who had had shingles for cyears, my husband also had it – so please no-one tell me that you don’t get totally shattered, weak, fatigued, depressed and that you can still work regularly- my colleague was regularly off work one week approx. every 6 weeks and my husband had to leave work for the 1st 6 months as a geologist …he finally did get over the worst but it took 3 years (my colleague never got over it in the 5 years I worked with him).

Markus Says:

It is living with severe chronic pain that saps the energy of people with PHN. Shingles only affects the sensory nerve endings in the skin. It does not affect motor function. If you test their motor function, it is completely normal. They lose their energy as a consequence of pain and the depression that is so common aming oatients with chronic pain.

J-Kath Says:


They do not live with chronic pain every minute of every day which you seem to be implying. You may be a doctor/scientist/researcher – I don’t know but you seem to be academic and without any actual expression od the life circle of shingles that varies from person to person and varies in timespan as well. I wouldn’t press this if I didn’t know 100% what I have closely experienced and some of this very recent.

Wog Boy Says:


Copy/paste Wiki/google -academic.

J-Kath Says:

See U Wogboy: And Thanks.

Markus is usually OK but when he discarded “weakness” I knew he really didn’t understand how the immune system is truly WEAKENED by shingles.

My colleague was almost as young as Andy when he fell victim – my hubbie had Bell’s Palsy before I even met him – and managed to catch Shingles plus a number of other health problems and recover from them (before he eventually died of a car accident).

Wog Boy Says:


To be honest, I know nothing about shingles, I’ve never heard about them until my GP, few months ago, gave me prescription for shingles vaccine telling me that I am in that age bracket that is advisable to be vaccinated against shingles, I am yet to do it, I am little bit of slackass..and I’ll probably get them (shingles) by the time I decide to do it.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Markus, this is what is called a distinction without a difference.

gonzalowski Says:

Garbiñe and Novak make a good pair!,
they are for the draw selection

Van Persie Says:

As expected, Rafa and Nole on the same half

Van Persie Says:

Zverev in Andy’s half

Willow Says:

Rafa and Novak on the same side good ….

lylenubbins Says:

Not getting TX’s bullishness on Murray and Stanimal, they have both had bad clay seasons. Rafa, Novak, Thiem and Zverev are the contenders, maybe also Goffin.

RZ Says:

Le Racquet Bracket est établi! The link is http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketFrenchOpenATP/TennisX2017/default.aspx
Let me know if you have any issues with accessing the site.

All are welcome to play. You have until Sunday 5am ET/10am BT to make your picks (i.e., you have to submit them before the French Open starts on Sunday).

I’m going to wait until tomorrow to make my entries since there are some players whose entries are iffy. Also, I want to give Elina a chance to enter so I can copy her bracket. 😇

Andy fans will notice that I opted to give him a rest for being our poster boy and instead went with a zebra-clad Thiem. We’ll see how that works out for Team Thiem.

chrisford1 Says:

Markus -”The one who wins the French will be the happiest even if he won nothing of those lead up tournaments. No amount of Masters is greater than a single major title.”

The ATP, Marray, Novak, and Rafa all disagree.

The ATP set it so 2 Masters matches the points one gets at a Slam for “wins’, same with prize money.
Andy, Rafa, and Novak have all said that they hope to peak at Majors, but nevertheless, train and fight just as hard for the Masters/WTA/Davis Cup/Olympics as they do for a “Slamcount” stat.

Slams are obviously important, but don’t dismiss other events or nations outside the 4 Slam countries. Slams can be important for career goals – Novak wins the French he gets the 1st double career Slam, Rafa gets the AO, the same. But a win for Rafa at the WTF or Novak at Cincinnati would be very good for their legacy as well. Rafa’s inability to win a WTF is a ding on his career, no doubt about it. Same with Novak’s only etting 1 bronze in 3 Olympics. And if you wish the est for Novak,a Masters Sweep of the 9 Masters plus the Masters Year End Championship if he gets a Cincinnati win – is huge.

Markus is more correct on the woman’s side. The situation there is different. THeir “premiere events”, year end championship, and Fed Cup all get less attention than the men’s event. But a single Slam win means, if the girl is hot, 10 million in endoresments.

skeezer Says:

“Slams are obviously important, but…::”
Correction: “Slams are obviously the MOST important.”

Top story: Goffin, Belgium Seeking First Davis Cup Title This Weekend In France