Former Champions Federer, Serena In Action Sunday As French Open Begins; Is Djokovic Still My Winner?
by Sean Randall | May 24th, 2014, 3:29 pm

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.

Djokovic’s Title?
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!


Court Philippe Chatrier 11:00 AM Start
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)[3] vs. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Lukas Lacko (SVK) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)[4]
Serena Williams (USA)[1] vs. Alize Lim (FRA)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)[13] vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Court Suzanne Lenglen 11:00 AM Start
Milos Raonic (CAN)[8] vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs. Venus Williams (USA)[29]
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs. John Isner (USA)[10]
Katarzyna Piter (POL) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER)[8]

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51 Comments for Former Champions Federer, Serena In Action Sunday As French Open Begins; Is Djokovic Still My Winner?

harry Says:

Hilarious tweet:

Muzza fans will love it most ;)

roy Says:

good point about the conditions. slow does suit djokovic. harder for nadal to hit through the court/put djoker on the defensive.

still, nadal’s clay record in 5 setters is 83/1.
and he wasn’t healthy for the soderling loss. the wimbledon withdrawal was obvious proof of a serious issue.

the hardest year to pick, though, because nadal has lost 3 times (though he lost twice a few other years) and because last year djoker did come closest (though they’ve always had tight matches and really nadal could have won in 4 if he’d served it out so the 5th set 9/7 scoreline is a little misleading).

one thing which should be considered is nadal’s different mentality in 5 set matches. he always feels more comfortable because he has more time to adjust/weather an aggressive style.

i’m pretty sure nadal feels less vulnerable against djoker in 5 on any surface and particularly on clay and that the 3set results are considered a separate issue.

it would be similar to how he views federer. he knows federer can get him in 3 sets on any surface. a good tiebreak, a break. that can be it.
but on 5 he’s MUCH more comfortable.

djoker is more dangerous right now but it’s telling that nadal has never been beaten in straights by djoker in 5. he’s always managed to make it a fight.

madmax Says:


You just can’t get over Soderling beating Nadal can you?

Hippy Chic Says:

Harry i cannot open the link there is nothing there?

Margot Says:

Yes, I saw them already, they’re brilliant aren’t they? Niall is so clever and inventive.
Of course he is a huge Muzza fan…..a man of impeccable taste, wouldn’t you say?…;)

mat4 Says:


Agree with Margot — exceptional tweet. And then, who won: Lokoli or LaMonf? Think they are both excellent.

Hippy Chic Says:

Mat4 when i opened the link there was nothing there,nice picture on GTN BTW?

harry Says:

Ha ha, Margot, Muzza is growing on me ;)

mat4, somebody shouted out egalite ;)

HippyC, both are normal links; if you still can’t open the “Muzza” link, may be you can try this:

Hippy Chic Says:

Harry got that one many thanks ;))….

mat4 Says:

BTW… It is not “slow” that suits Novak on clay. Quite the contrary, he lacks power under slow conditions, although he manages to be better placed for shots.

But a heavy clay reduces both spin and rebound. That’s what helps him.

mat4 Says:

Just watched a hilarious clip in French: who’s the favourite?

It’s here

For Novak: Rafa, Wawa,
For Rafa: Novak
For Muzza: Rafa, Novak, Fed, then he doesn’t know
For Fed: not him, everybody else…

Michael Says:

Well Novak has got the trickiest of draws. Still I earnestly hope he makes it to the finals and challenge the hegemony of Rafa who has a strenous grip at Rolland Garros. Remember, Rafa all these years has lost only to Soderling in 2009 and he has a blemishless record there. The only challenge for Rafa at Rolland Garros can come from Novak. I can think of no other player who can fancy to beat him out there despite his vulnerability of late at clay courts. It is one thing to beat Rafa in a three setter, but a totally different ball game to beat him in a five setter.

Hippy Chic Says:

Michael Ferrer and Almagro are on Rafas side of the draw and have recently beaten him on clay,and Stan won MC,and is also on Rafas side of the draw,plus Thiem who beat Stan a couple of weeks ago,so im definetly not seeing him as a shoo for the final,let alone the actuall title….

madmax Says:

Hippy, you don’t have faith in your man, when you should.

Any tournament leading up to a slam, has to be a practice yard.

Amalgo, whilst a good clay courter, is not someone who could be regarded as a lethal threat. Ferrer is a possible threat, but on the day? With all that Rafa brings onto the court at RG? Can’t see it.

Novak,well, it’s his energy and fitness that astounds me. He loses a set, you think he is going out, then he just comes back and wins the match. He is Rafa’s main threat. He doesn’t fear him or the legend on clay.

Roger, is fantastic on clay, but I thnk of all those miles on the clock in his legs. By jove, he still wants to compete and win, no doubt and he is one of the few players who can beat Novak when in his draw. They are, I would say, equally matched, But we know the story with the RH v the LH, it is that Novak’s game suits rafa’s much more as they are both grinders. Fed isn’t. He is adept at other things and though can still grind, not for longer periods now.

Murray, brought up on clay and I think is stepping into his zone right now. I think he is going to do well at RG.

So the favourite still has to be Rafa. Even though we hear time and again, from him, that he is not the favourite! Unbelievable!

The others, Tsonga is always a threat, and you just never, ever know. Wawinka could surprise us all – but think that would be a surprise, a welcome one though, with the same coach as Soderling, that would be ironic!

You would thinnk that Grigor and dolgo, with their age and youth on their side would be able to go deep, but I think what they lack now is the experience and the belief.

Not long now.

Hippy Chic Says:

Madmax nice post and i agree with what your saying,but regarding Rafa every other fan can be confident,but i choose to be cautious,age and the law of averages are catching up with him,but i will just enjoy it and be ready for whatever unfolds….

Hippy Chic Says:

^And at the moment,like Rafa himself says,i will be concentrating on my 1st match Robby Genepri^….

calmdownplease Says:

`Murray, brought up on clay and I think is stepping into his zone right now. I think he is going to do well at RG…`

Murray was brought up in a cold rainy northern country with perhaps not one clay court in within it’s borders.
Please, spending 2 years in Barcelona does not = `brought up`.

Hippy Chic Says:

Put it this way,i hope Madmax is right and Murray does have a good tournament here at the FO….

calmdownplease Says:

Put it this way HC, I hope MM is right too.
Just not very, the quarters would be the time to kiss off Paris.

Hippy Chic Says:

CDP that would be a great showing in Paris given clay isnt his best surface anyway,and im not a mind reader but im wondering if hes more focused on defending his title at Wimbledon….

calmdownplease Says:

Well, wouldn’t you be?
I’m sorry but the only slam that comes close to Wimbles is the US Open and that has become something of a hurricane blighted/scheduling embarrassment.
They’re all great but Wimbledon is just a little bit..greater.

Hippy Chic Says:


skeezer Says:

Fed is through over Lacko, Lacko gave Rafa a Bagel once. Hope he enjoyed it.

Tennis lover Says:

I predict Novak will not win French’ll be either Rafa or smn else…If he wins it’ll be a satisfying achievement. I feel it won’t be Novak this time..sorry, for Nole fan…

Ben Pronin Says:

Something about everyone and their grandmothers picking Novak certainly makes me feel uneasy.

skeezer Says:

^same here ;(

Hippy Chic Says:

I predict that we cant predict anything,well we can as long as we dont state them as bona fide facts,or belittle anyone elses predictions….

Giles Says:

Read the link I posted on the Rafa thread. Someone disagrees with Sean. Guess who? Fed!! Says:

Ben, that’s why I’m calling for an All Swiss Final. When everyone agrees on something, they must be wrong.

calmdownplease Says:

`When everyone agrees on something, they must be wrong…`

Conversley, when at most a few people believe in one thing (`an all swiss final`)
Then they must be correct?

madmax Says:

calmdownplease Says:
`Murray, brought up on clay and I think is stepping into his zone right now. I think he is going to do well at RGโ€ฆ`

Murray was brought up in a cold rainy northern country with perhaps not one clay court in within itโ€™s borders.
Please, spending 2 years in Barcelona does not = `brought up`.

May 25th, 2014 at 8:44 am

You need to adhere to your name CDP, or have some CP.

Murray has spent a lot of time when he was younger in Barcelona and he is great. Don’t underestimate him. I stand by what I say. When someone as young as 14 plays on clay, “he is brought up on it”. The way you see it, you would think he was a novice. He ain’t.

madmax Says:


I didn’t see the match with Fed, but am reading about it. Said he was “in a hurry”, so how did he look in your opinion?

His serve seemed to be firing today:

“He powered-up his serve to max out at 200kph and hit seven aces from 61 attempts. He also carried his legs to the net 20 times, cutting the exchange short with 16 crisp volleys. This has been and will continue to be a feature of his game in the glowing twilight of an illustrious career.”

calmdownplease Says:

I’m perfectly calm, and no I must disagree. Novak Roger and of course Rafa started playing on clay at around 4/5 years of age, not 14 and not just for the 2/3 years.
He might be capable of the odd upset but I would literally be mind blown if he got to the final nevermind win it.
Maybe one day, but not now.

harry Says:

@HippyC (5:02): you are welcome!

@mat4: yes, funny video! i also liked how they made fun of Alize Lin by playing “l’honneur de francais” ;)

@Tennis-X: good make over! the color on the side looks perfect for the season. Are you planning to change it to green for grass?

@all: Enjoy these spectacular shots:

mat4 Says:


Thank you for the links, although the ranking was a bit… strange. For me, the first two points were the best, especially the one won by Mary Pierce.

But it also a reminder that tennis didn’t start with Roger, Rafa, for the many that don’t know that.

harry Says:

@mat4: yes: Pierce’s and Agassi’s were the best in my opinion too (with Pierce’s being even better). The others were also really great shots…

Also agree with you that we are so caught up in the present: not only in men’s tennis, but also in women’s tennis. Seles’ depth & angles in her shots in that point against Pierce (though she lost the point) show where Sharapova, Azarenka etc etc stand…

mat4 Says:


Monika’s story is perhaps the most traumatic tragedy of tennis: she was utterly dominant (beating Graf everywhere but at Wimby) when she lost her career, then her father and her country, even, in a sense, her identity.

We have all forgot the huge champion she was, and her only successor is, in many ways, Rafael Nadal.

mat4 Says:

When I think about it, her rivalry with Steffi Graf reminds very much the Roger/Rafa rivalry.

harry Says:

Mat4: I never thought of Graf/Seles as Rog/Rafa — but yes, i agree that there are lots of similarities in their play on court (not just 1-hander vs 2-hander, righty vs lefty, but also the mental aspects). But Rafa’s life & tennis are not tragedies — although he fights like a warrior (like she did).

Tennis lover Says:

What if Novak looses early or looses to smn not named Rafa or Roger?? It’d culminate the beginning of his decline as a GS contender. It’d suddenly make everything raucous for him. And, Borris would soon fall into his ire. And, what about Rafa’s early exit..but, that would open the door for Novak and other guys. Isn’t it?? I just don’t believe how some people expect Novak to be in the final and take down Rafa. Novak, better do it this year otherwise GS will turn elusive for you again.. O sorry..I forgot Novak will have some other duties to perform soon that would probably make him happy without GS.

mat4 Says:


You are a troll, indeed…

jamie Says:

Nadal will win his last slam this year at Roland Garros. He will retire with 14 slams at the end of 2015 after a really bad season.

jamie Says:

Djokovic will win Wimbledon and the USO this year.

mat4 Says:

As a Novak fan, I’d take it. Even just one Wimbledon.

Giles Says:

Jamie. I see you’re lurking again! Lol

harry Says:

mat4, yes me too, one more Wimby would be great — 7 is not a bad number ;)

Hippy Chic Says:

For the last time Rafa has stated he will play Rio in 2016,whether he will still be a factor in tennis remains to be seen,and its probably doubtfull anyway,but that doesnt sound to me like he has any intention of retiring,so please let these people play,insted of pushing them off to retirement?

Hippy Chic Says:

Jamie as your a Novak fan,so let me make you happy Novak will win 25 GS,nobody else will ever win a GS ever again while Novaks still playing,its pointless Rafa,Roger,Andy,Stan even playing why bother?

Hippy Chic Says:

Andy will win Wimbledon and the USO this year you heard it here 1st,there said it,see everybody can make predictions,what makes me any different?

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