The French Open kicks off Sunday in Paris with a very impressive line-up featuring two of the all-time greats in Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While I don’t think either will have much of workout – Federer plays the lightweight Lukas Lacko, Serena will likely hammer down Alize Lim – there are some other interesting matches.
On Chatrier, Agnieszka Radwanska who hasn’t made much noise this year takes on one of the highest ranked players not to get seeded, Zhang Shuai. Radwanksa doesn’t play her best on the clay so maybe an upset from the Chinese? Or maybe not.
In the closer, JW Tsonga faces Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the all French-affair. In front of the home fans Tsonga will put on a show, but Roger-Vasselin is a decent player who can give his popular countryman fits.
On Lenglen, in a match-up of future stars Milos Raonic tangles with Nick Kyrgios. Clay won’t suite either so that should make the match that much more fun. Then it’s Venus Williams against another rising phenom in 17-year-old Belinda Bencic. Venus is almost twice as old as her opponent and at her age probably still twice as good. But let’s see what this young 2013 French junior champ Bencic has.
Tomas Berdych is also in action as is Mikhail Youzhny who faces youngster Pablo Carreno Busta.
John Isner and Sam Querrey will try to do America proud on the clay – we need all the help we can get!
The slumping Jerzy Janowicz is also on as are Garbine Muguruza, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jurgen Melzer who takes on David “whatever happened to me?” Goffin.
As for my pre-draw pick Novak Djokovic, I’m sticking with it post-draw. On clay I don’t see Djokovic losing to guys like Raonic, Tsonga, Dolgoplov, Marin Cilic or Kei Nishikori. Not on clay. And in the semifinals I do think Federer, who clearly has a connection to a higher power after looking at his draw, will make it there to the final four.
In the top half, Rafael Nadal’s lost to both Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer, but in best-of-5 he’ll have his revenge. In the second quarter I make Stan Wawrinka the slight favorite over Andy Murray. But Murray’s got a great draw and if they meet I think the Scot could up winning that. This is Stan’s surface and unless the pressure gets to him he should prevail.
In the end – three Sundays from now – I still take Djokovic over Nadal. It’s a cop-out pick, but it’s the right one. The weather is also said to be a issue. Heavy conditions and rain I think helps Djokovic – remember when it started raining a few years ago in the French final, that’s when Novak went on the run. And also in Monte Carlo final last year I believe it rained before their match.
If it does warm up and the conditions do dry out then that I think would help Nadal. But we are two weeks from debating all that. First things first, the first round!
On this holiday weekend in the U.S., Tennis Channel, ESPN and NBC have coverage the next two days. How lucky we are to have THREE networks all trying to cover the same event!
SUNDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Lukas Lacko (SVK) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Alize Lim (FRA)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start
Milos Raonic (CAN) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs. John Isner (USA)
Katarzyna Piter (POL) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER)
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2014 French Open TV Schedule: NBC, Tennis Channel, ESPN