French Open Men’s Draw Preview: Nadal Should Breeze; Djokovic, Zverev, Thiem On Other Half
by Sean Randall | May 24th, 2018, 4:13 pm
  • 58 Comments

So it has come down to John Isner or Fabio Fognini in the semifinals, and then maybe Alexander Zverev in the final. And that’s it. Other than a complete physical collapse, those are the only real obstacles for Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

His draw should feel like a cool springtime breeze in Paris. And he might run through the tournament and reach 11 just like he did in getting #10 a year ago, and that’s without dropping a set.

With many guys injured or absent and with the younger gen still learning the game, this could be one of his easier paths thanks to a very advantageous draw.

Let’s get to it.

RAFAEL NADAL QUARTER
There Alexander Dolgopolov to start, then Joao Sousa followed by Richard Gasquet. In the fourth, maybe Jack Sock can get a set. Or Maybe Denis Shapovalov beats Sock! Sock hasn’t been playing that well, and I think I’ll go with the Canadian to meet Rafa. Kevin Anderson is in their but he’s iffy with a recent thigh injury. Borna Coric, who opens against Phil Kohlschreiber in a good one, is also dealing with a bad neck. So maybe a South American like Diego Schwartzman or Pablo Cuevas gets out to that quarter – I’ll lean with the Argentine. Either way, Nadal rolls into the semifinals without a loss of a set.
The Pick: Nadal

MARIN CILIC QUARTER
If Juan Martin Del Potro’s groin was 100% I’d pick him to get to the semis. But more than likely it won’t be and that spells trouble for the big guy. But there are many other giants in this section from which to choose: Marin Cilic, John Isner and Tomas Berdych. All of whom could make the semis. But they could also lose the first week – Berdych in the first round against Jeremy Chardy. Instead, I’m going to go a complete curveball and take Fabio Fognini to have his best French Open, beat Kyle Edmund, Marin Cilic and then maybe a Ramos-Vinolas to get to the first Slam semi (and it’s his 30th birthday today, so why not!).
The Pick: Fabio Fognini

GRIGOR DIMITROV QUARTER
After a pretty weak top half, the bottom half features a lot more depth, danger and intrigue. Novak Djokovic will be a lowly 20 seed in a section that includes Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin, Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut, Fernando Verdasco and even David Ferrer who could meet Novak as early as Wednesday! On form, Goffin has looked good but so too did Novak last week in Rome. Meanwhile, Dimitrov has been a dud, Monfils in coming off injury, RBA is better on hard courts and Ferrer seems to be an afterthought. Verdasco, though, interests me. Best-of-5 should help Novak past Ferrer, RBA and then Verdasco/Dimitrov. And I think he’ll use his experience to beat Goffin and get back into a Slam semi!
The Pick: Djokovic

ALEXANDER ZVEREV QUARTER
The Kid Zverev has got to make a Slam quarter and I think this is the event he finally does it, and goes beyond. The draw is there for him with Stan Wawrinka still not back in full flight, though Karen Khachanov could be an issue. But in that quarter he’ll be tested by the winner between Kei Nishikori-Dominic Thiem. Nishikori has a great draw while Thiem could the Greek kid Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. In the fourth rounder, Thiem has never taken a set in two meetings with Nishikori, but I’ll go with the Austrian to get out to the Zverev match. The run for Dominic ends as Zverev takes him out.
The Pick: Zverev

SEMIFINALS
Nadal d Fognini: Happy-to-be-there Fabio makes it fun, but Rafa’s all business.
Zverev d Djokovic: Djokovic’s improving, but I just don’t think his serve is where it needs to be.

FINAL
Nadal d Zverev: Rematch of the Rome final and the outcome is the same. Rafa in three.

So really no surprise with Rafa. The question is, how many sets will he lose? One? Two? I can’t see more than two unless he runs into a hot-handed Isner or Zverev catches fire. Maybe Theim can give him trouble again.

Roland Garros is Rafa’s house. That simple. And outside of two losses to Thiem, no one has touched him on clay the last 16 months.

That said, if Zverev can get to the semifinals, especially the finals, maybe the floodgates open for Alex and next year he takes that step and becomes the “Rafa Stopper”! Someone is going to do it, and someone is going to be winning French Opens in 3-4 years from now and it won’t be Nadal.

I will also add it’s too bad so many players are nursing injuries like Delpo, Coric, Wawrinka and Monfils. Because guys like them could certainly take advantage, if healthy, of the open draws like we’ve seen this year – I’d really like to see a Coric-Nadal QF!

So the race for second place starts on Sunday.


You Might Like:
French Open Men’s Preview: Nadal, Djokovic End Up On Same Side Of Draw
Top-seeded Thiem vs. Zverev in Opening Round at Strong ATP Rotterdam; Preview
Preview: Federer Goes for No. 10 at ATP Halle Gerry Weber Open
Zverev, Thiem Lead Next Gen Surge at ATP Vienna; Preview
Thiem Sends French Warning Shot with Nice Title

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

58 Comments for French Open Men’s Draw Preview: Nadal Should Breeze; Djokovic, Zverev, Thiem On Other Half

RZ Says:

It’s about time Thiem avoids Rafa’s side of the draw at a clay tournament.

Tourneytopia is not yet set up for the Racquet Bracket. I’ll try to get it set up tomorrow morning.


Kimberly Says:

Let us know our family and friends are game!


RZ Says:

The Racquet Bracket is up! The link is: https://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketFrenchOpenATP/TennisXers2018/
Don’t forget that the French Open starts on SUNDAY so make your picks have to be in on Sunday morning before the tournament officially begins.

Kimberly – glad that you, Colin, and your family and friends will be taking part again.


Kimberly Says:

Came here just to look for the link but definitely just enjoyed reading The Who is the second favorite post. Humble Rafa still at it. I am inclined to agree of course


AndyMira Says:

Thank u so much RZ for make an effort for all of us to participate once again on Tourney Topia….

Margot Slam??Yeeehaaaa!!..I definitely wanna stop her RZ!….But,i don’t think my tennis brain is good enough to do that!hehehe…But,i will try!…

Welsh Witch!!….Watch your backside!..Here i come!!


AndyMira Says:

Sean…Sorry!But i have to say that’s very bold of u to pick Foggy to reach semis…He reached QF in Rome last week…Still playing atm in Geneva in semis…And to be in semis at FO,he has to play 5 matches[Bo5]..Also it means he has to play almost 4 straight weeks..And he’s 31…

Good luck with your pick Sean!!Woohohoho!!..Tho,thank u for picking Rafa to win!!….

Vamos Rafa!!


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

Still sticking to Rafa-Dom final, should you read this :P

See Sean has picked Djoko as winner of his quarter, could be. His 1st round , which qualifier (?) will tell a lot. Ferrer is a potential 2nd round, also tricky. Djoko should try to close his matches in 3 sets.


Margot Says:

Thank you RZ. See you there!
AM: I don’t think RG is my slam…a bit like my darling favourite! Agree bold pick re Foggy. Of course he could, but equally he could blow at any time. And he’s got quite a gut, can he last lots of 5 setters?
VP: Not so sure about Thiem getting there, he’s played a lot of tennis and at present is locked in combat with Garcia Lopez of all people. Hoping Pretty Boy shows all his detractors he’s not just a pretty face, and GORGEOUS hair….;) Think Nole has a good draw and fingers crossed he goes deep.
Lol we’re not even trying to poll who’s going to win, rather how many sets Rafa will lose!


Van Persie Says:

Yep Margot,

For me Rafa is the obvious fave, would be a really, really big surprise if he loses to someone.
To be honest, I am most interested how deep Nole can go at this FO.
Zverev has still prove, he can make it to the 2nd week.
A set at A TB lost against GGL, does not say much, not sure Thiem is there to win a final, he is there for warm up. Not like he lost a set 6-0.

I really enjoy this FO. No pressure on my fave and myself, that he has to win this RG ;)


Daniel Says:

Foggy being blown out right now in Geneve, can’t pick him up to go that far. With age he became even more unstable


Daniel Says:

Same with Cilic’s quarter. Can’t pick against DelPo and have him and Cilic in QF, where DelPo has a 10-2 HxH over Cilic. want to pick Cilic but can’t see it either, will go with DelPo, day rest in between will favir him. And Djoko also.


Daniel Says:

At least with the other main favorites in second half we may get an exciting final. Nadal basically will get under tested with easy matches and may face some big servers.
In finals if he plays: Zverev, Thiem or Djoko could be a good match. Zverev and Thiem will be on their first final and hiding some good momentum. Thiem may wins Lyon tomorrow and recover some steam for Garros.
I Djoko is in finals, once he is there after a long time wihtout playing than watch. He is slowly getting better.


gonzalowski Says:

agree with Daniel, the final can be dangerous for Rafa, if he arrives, and ‘under tested’.


AndyMira Says:

Gonza…What do u mean under tested?I thought Rafa has been tested enough in this clay season…

In Rome,barred Dzumhur in 2nd rd,he got Shapovalov in 3rd,Foggy in QF,Novak in semi and Sascha in the final…This is tough test right?

Same at MC…he got big server Khachanov,Thiem,Dimitrov,Nishikori..

So,i think he’s been tested enough so far,even his draw is easy at FO,doesn’t matter..The dangerous thing for him right now is the weather…If it’s rain like in Rome,then it could be dangerous for him…Hope the weather will be as beautiful& bright as the newlyweds…Yeehaaa!!


j-kath Says:

Can’t see Del Potro noticeably advancing – he’s evidently not close to being 100% fit…Cilic will be good enuf to beat him.


Daniel Says:

AM,

We are saying under tested in RG. His draw is so easy that he may arrive in finals without any real contender. And than he will have to deal with Thiem/Zverev/Djoko in finals. That could, maybe be a potential disturbance in the force for him. Which of course, he will adjust even if losing first set in that hypothetical final.


jalep Says:

Just pick Rafa to win if you are picking an ATP bracket. As for the rest of my picks, runner-up included …very uncertain and wobbly.

WTA is different. There’s many names for whom a case can be made to win. Just go to any betting site and look at the outright winner list and you’ll see 13 or 14 reasonably good choices. And still you will not pick the winner because whoever she is will be coming from practically out of nowhere. All dark horses. That said:

Go Simona!


lylenubbins Says:

If Rafa cruises to the final I think it helps him, both in terms of confidence and freshness.


AndyMira Says:

I know what u mean Daniel….Under tested at FO is not going to be an issue imo…being confident’s are…Coz confident is very important to him..And he’s already got that when he won MC,Barcelona,Rome…


AndyMira Says:

j!…Who do u pick for a winner?Petra?Elina?Or Simona?


jalep Says:

Do you really want me to get into it, darling AM?


gonzalowski Says:

AM yes, I thought maybe Rafa doesn’t achieve to get to his best level, not having some difficult matches (we’ll see if it’s so) before the final.


AndyMira Says:

Hey j!….Miss u sooooo very much!!hehe…

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ2SYm2pBdr9jQ3KPYsUdItbYs6fTCGvV_Ebs5aTxaUiWG57yK-Wg

Oh!…Of coz i want u to get into it j!!…Duh!!


AndyMira Says:

Gonza…Contrary to u,i think Rafa already get to his best level going to FO…When he beat those difficult player in Rome,he just cemented his belief even more…But,let’s see okay?

Hey!…I got something for u Gonza!..U’ll going to love it!!…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g355znrQZy4&feature=youtu.be


jalep Says:

Ah, thanks πŸ€—

Okay, AM,

Will do it later when I get home on a WTA thread here for you.


AndyMira Says:

Okay Boss!..Will wait for u here!!…

Oh!…I gave u a couple of articles about Queen Elina on WTA thread on TG as well j!…Thought u would like it!


Tennis Vagabond Says:

So Rafa was already a massive favourite. Now all 3 players we thought might have a non-zero chance of an upset are on the other side.

Some folks here are really going out on a limb picking Nadal.

It’ll be fun to see how far Novak and Shapovalov can go. Other than that, I think it’ll be a good one to tune out. I’m sure Rafa fans will be in heaven all week. I don’t begrudge you that! Your player deserves it! Enjoy!


AndyMira Says:

Awwww Thank u TV!…You’re one of the BEST BEST posters here!…Always loved to read your fair & balance post!…


Okiegal Says:

@AM………Thanks for the link about Rafa’s fast feet……..AWESOME!!!


AndyMira Says:

Hehehe….You’re most welcome Miss Okie!!


gonzalowski Says:

AM thanks for the link!! , incredible shots.. funny to recognize the rivals and watch their reaction 😊


Margot Says:

AM and Jalep, I see Naughty Nick has got into a doubles final with Tubs. Given he’s still standing, how do you like his chances? No! Not winning you sillies…;) Maybe getting into the 2nd week? If, and it’s a big if, he’s playing well he’s so dangerous, but reminding me more and more of Foggy as in a bit of a prima donna.


AndyMira Says:

Hey M!…Yeah!..I read that he’s do really well in dubs atm…He’s also said his elbow is doing fine…so,i picked him till 3rd RD at least..There he’ll meet with PCB,tho PCB also not that good atm..lost at the 1st hurdle at Madrid..4th rd in Rome..and i’m not surprised if Naughty Nick take him out in 3rd M….

About 2nd week…Very possibly too M!…Tho,if he’s get there…There is no way he’ll get past Goffin…


AndyMira Says:

Gonza!…I knew you’re going to love that vid!!hehehe….God!Young Rafa was just AWESOME right??Missed that vibrant,energetic,rock stylish of his so very much!!


gonzalowski Says:

AM yes, Young Rafa looks to me like a wilder Shapovalov from today.
And how he celebrated his points hehe, maybe it resulted annoying for somebody


jalep Says:

ahhhhahahahaha Margot. Sock says just give me another beer while I smoke this bud.

I think he and Kyrgios are hanging out enjoying the doubles.

But I actually like Tubs chances to make it to play Rafa and get wiped out by Rafa of course.

It’s a long story but basically it’s about Tubs enormously good luck – even without much effort. While Shapo, Harrison, Millman, and Marterer are all flexing their muscles and flashing talent beating each other I think lucky Tubs slips through beating Zopp, Bhambri and one of the Shapo group that has fought perhaps a couple 5 set matches or at least very tough 4 set matches. Yep my dark horse to meet Rafa of that group is lucky Sock.

Oh I been having fun picking ATP, knowing in the end I’ve got Rafa there to win it.


jalep Says:

Oh, I like Tomic to beat Kyrgios this time…in 5 sets if he must. Tomic has been planning it.😜 It’s a surprise attack while Kyrgios has been blow way off course.


Margot Says:

Wot? Wot? Tubs winning anything other than the race to the ice cream parlour? Wot you smoking gal? I want some, very powerful hallucinatory substance, obviously!


AndyMira Says:

M!…Easy!easy!

j!…I love u to bits!…But…R u sure u wanna pick him over Shapo?Sock is sucks nowadays j!..Never passed 2nd RD at all this clay season…When he lost early,that means he lack of match sharpness right?His fitness also very questionable to play till 4th RD imo…


AndyMira Says:

Gonza!…Yeah!…But i think he deserved to celebrated like that…His winners r out of this world!!Hahaha…


j-kath Says:

Thiem not looking promising in his pre-FO match – maybe playing too much as he did last year??????


AndyMira Says:

Yeah JK!…I actually can’t believe he chose to play in Lyon this week!What was he thinking??He’s already played 3 straight weeks since Madrid…Plus FO next week…4 straight weeks!Urgh!!…And Tsitsipas is waiting for him in 2nd RD…


gonzalowski Says:

Dolgopolov retired by injury, Simone Bolelli (atp 130) instead, Rafa’s rival. 5-0 h2h against Rafa


gonzalowski Says:

“Nadal, who has trained this morning with the Frenchman Lucas Pouille, has been one of the protagonists of the day of the children in the Philippe Chatrier. Rafa was seen joking with Novak Djokovic”

https://e00-marca.uecdn.es/assets/multimedia/imagenes/2018/05/26/15273520114404.jpg


j-kath Says:

A-M – Yep, don’t think he’s doing himself any favours – has he forgotten GS matches can be 5 sets!!!!


AndyMira Says:

Yeah JK!….We have to seek an explanation from the head of Team Thiem,why they allowed such action from their protegee’…


jalep Says:

Have to stay with Thiem to win his first round vs Ivashka and hope to have a Tsitsi-Thiem 2nd round match. I’m not going deep with Thiem though. I have him losing to Kei after watching him in Lyon. Perhaps Thiem will get better as he goes on at RG and make the QF but right now I can’t see it. He needed 3 sets to beat GGL, Lajovic, then Simon. His energy is up and down during his matches. At least he won Lyon. Maybe it’s just what he needed to get going.

AM, Tsitsipas has to beat Taberner first before he gets to play Thiem. I’ve never seen 20 year old qualifier Taberner but he made it through RG qualifying so he must be decent. Don’t want to overlook him πŸ˜‹ but I did pick Stef to win the 1st round.

There’s still time for me to sober up and pick Shapolov, Margot! I’m thinking about it. But somehow Tubs seems right to me. And I went with Naughty Nick over Tomic. Tubs and Nick won the Lyon doubles – so they are enjoying themselves.


jalep Says:

Hope you had fun with the brackets, Margot and AM! And good luck — Can’t wait to see your picks!

I’m staying with Halep but I got her beating Kvitova in the final which does feel wrong to me.

Rafa vs Zverev final. Djokovic losing to Zverevv in the SF. And that feels wrong too. But I just don’t know if Novak has the energy and stamina to get in a final with Rafa.


AndyMira Says:

hey j!…Yeah!…Tsitsi has to beat Taberner 1st no doubt…and i expect him to get past this Taberner in straight sets..His legs is fresh now after a week rest…But can’t wait for his supposed showdown with Thiem…It’s going to be xplosive!!…Thiem better get ready!!


AndyMira Says:

Oh!…Don’t worry about my Bracket j!…I’m sure it will go down the drain pretty soon after that!!hehehe….

“I;m staying with Halep but i got her beating Kvitova in the final which does feel wrong to me”…Hehehehe….Considering your form is so consistent lately ,i think your Bracket would be alright j…Same with Witch From Welsh!


Margot Says:

Dawn here and still tinkering with my brackets and thinking of doing a couple more…..great fun. Agree re Thiem, overplayed. Watch him win now! Have got Naughty Nick beating Atomic, consider Bernie a joke till I see otherwise. And Petra beating Simona.


Humble Rafa Says:

I not worried about my opponents. I am worried about the Randall curse.


Margot Says:

Monfils looking very wobbly against a young unknown. Hope nobody in our bracket has him going deep….;) Injured?


RZ Says:

Kyrgios has withdrawn. I didn’t expect him to do much at this tournament but I did have him winning his first round against Tomic.


Margot Says:

^ Ahhhh, Naughty Nick sooo irritating. Expect Bernie will get a “lucky loser.” Dimi found out who he was playing about an hour before match due to start.


j-kath Says:

First time I’ve seen a cropped Monfils – didn’t recognise him at first – and Samson and Delilah sprang to mind during the first set.


Madmax Says:

Well Sean, it is very disappointing for sure. What is going on right now?

Top story: Rafael Nadal Withdraws From China Events, Novak Djokovic In Prime Position For No. 1
Most Recent story: Maria Sharapova's 2018 Season Is Over