My Early French Open Favorites: Novak Djokovic And Andy Murray Are The Guys To Beat
by Sean Randall | May 19th, 2016, 11:46 am
  • 28 Comments

With the French Open draw now less than 24 hours away, here are my pre-draw favorites:

1. Novak Djokovic
He’s had a couple of clay losses, but he’s still head and shoulders above everyone else on a longer time frame. And the French is the goal of the season. He’ll have a nice, two early rounds to work back into form and if the conditions are warm and fast, that should help. But head-to-head, unless he plays horribly early on, he’ll be the favorite to win every match.

2. Andy Murray
No coach, no problem, apparently. That said, something has been clicking in Murray since the start of 2015 on the clay. It’s become his favorite surface and the results show with wins over Djokovic and two over Rafael Nadal. And had he won that 5-setter against Novak in the semifinals last year in Paris, would he have beaten Stan in the final? So close. Maybe he gets closer this time. He comes in most in form of anyone.

3. Rafael Nadal
After a miserable start to 2016, I like that the trend is finally up for Rafa. He’s had some results he can build off of, and I know he’s not back to the “Real Rafa”, but at least he’s again a threat. At least he’s back in the mix. And with Djokovic maybe not so invincible anymore, he’ll take what’s happened so far this clay season as a positive.

4. Kei Nishikori
With the right draw – in a Swiss quarter? – he could easily be a semifinalist, maybe more. Look at his last six losses – all to Djokovic, Murray and Nadal – so he’s beating the guys he should, now he needs to take it a step further like he did at the 2014 US Open.

5. Stan Wawrinka
No Top 10 wins on the season. No signs of life (he’s in Geneva right now). So I don’t have much hope for the defending champion. Best-of-5 and the fact the first few rounds are usually cupcakes will maybe get that engine going again. But it’s hard to see any sort of repeat performance based on his poor level of play recently.

6. Dominic Thiem
I don’t think he’s ready to beat a Djokovic-Nadal-Murray in a Slam yet, but if one of them gets plucked by someone else in his quarter, then he can take advantage. That said, this will be his first Slam as someone to really watch out for, so he’ll feel some of that pressure.

7. Nick Kyrgios
Opposite to Thiem in that he could beat a Djokovic-Nadal-Murray, I just don’t know if on clay, in what could be muddy conditions, he can mentally keep it together over two weeks.

8. Gael Monfils
Fell apart after that Monte Carlo run, but usually plays his best Grand Slam tennis in Paris. And could benefit in the rain.

9. David Goffin
Indian Wells-Miami showed he’s not a fluke. And he’s more than competent on the clay. I just think he’ll need a lot of upsets to the bigger players in order to make a deep run.

10. Roger Federer
Even if the back is ok (a big IF), unless he gets a dream draw (always possible with him!), I don’t see him being a real threat to win the title or really make the last four.

Others:
Tomas Berdych – Lost 60 60, fired the coach, maybe that finally lights a fire under the underperforming Czech? Or does he Czech out?
Alexander Zverev – Let’s see if he can make some noise in best-of-5?
Richard Gasquet – For some reason I feel he’s due for a big run, but for some reason it never, ever happens.
Milos Raonic – Big serve, big forehand = simple formula for success. Compatible on any surface.

The big draw story tomorrow will be if Federer plays, and if so then in whose quarter does Nadal land in? So that’s what we’ll be watching for around 6am ET Friday when this all goes down! Place your bets.


UPDATE: Perhaps after reading my story and seeing how little his chances were, Federer has pulled out! Nadal now moves up to the No. 4 seed.


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28 Comments for My Early French Open Favorites: Novak Djokovic And Andy Murray Are The Guys To Beat

green900 Says:

Federer just pulled out


Ben Pronin Says:

“And had he won that 5-setter against Novak in the semifinals last year in Paris, would he have beaten Stan in the final?”

No.


skeezer Says:

Good call by the Maestro. Champion of champions in every way.
Get fit for Wimpy Fed!
Now, this really opens up the draw to look completely different. Real possibility of some lower ranked player breaking out deep in the draw….looking possibly for Theim to make a move?…unless he has played too much tennis of late. Where is Rafa going to land?


SG1 Says:

Novak is going to get his FO this year. I figure he has this year and perhaps next year to get it done. And particularly today with the game being so physical. The window is almost closed for him.


SG1 Says:

Agree with Ben BTW. Perhaps a peak DelPo could have handled the ball blasting Wawrinka of last year. Murray…no shot against Wawa playing like he did in that final. One of the great singular performances in slam history.


RZ Says:

I think a lot of the guys on this list are playing well enough to make things interesting, but just don’t see anyone else other than Novak taking the title. It boils down to the fact that he almost never loses matches these days. Even when he seems down and out, he turns it around. And with best of 5, he has more time to turn things around if the going gets tough.


J-Kath Says:

skeezer

Rafa has his own quarter now….big difference. Time to work his way through…..as does the other 3.


skeezer Says:

“Even when he seems down and out, he turns it around. And with best of 5, he has more time to turn things around if the going gets tough.”
This is so true about his game. Probably only Rafa in his heyday was able to play like this so consistently. It seems like the only way Novak is going to lose nowadays is if you run through him start to finish.
Agree with 5 sets, it even gives him more room to maneuver strategically. This is going to be, has to be, will be his year. The stars are aligned in so many different ways for him. Fed is out, Rafa is not Rafa of old, Murray at present is his only viable threat. But Murray can, is….well….Murray.


Baa Says:

Novak was winning a lot and wasn’t ready for it in 2011.
Of course the fedal clowns said fed was playing more than anyone,
and was supposedly too old to fight by age 26. How convenient.
He wasn’t too old to beat Davydenko, Nalbandian & joke safinhewittRoddick.
Novak was in rough shape every June-Aug in 2012-2014.
He didn’t know what it was like to feel great in 5 setters in the summer.
That’s why a struggling Rafa let him destruct in 2013 Uso + 2014 French.


skeezer Says:

J-Kath,
Thx haven’t had time to think all that “what if” draw through yet…that helps. Yeah he was speed 5 right? So he moves up to 4.


Margot Says:

Lol skeeze at 12.26.
Is working in a burger fast food outlet so very taxing…..;)


jalep Says:

Importand Stanimal update: (bracket in mind)

In Geneva, Stan just slaughtered Pablo Carreno Busta. That makes 2 matches in a row: Ramos and PCB taken to the woodshed; decent CC players.

He has Andrey Kuznetsov in the semifinal next. Should be the same result tomorrow. If so, I’m on high alert because he could possibly be gathering some steam and consistency.

Cilic and Ferrer are the other semi. Cilic doing well after his absence. Interesting informational match for both 😯


Margot Says:

Beefy can beat everybody and equally beat nobody. Depends which way the wind is blowing I guess.


jalep Says:

It’s okay, fyi, is all. Could be sign — starting to focus on tennis.


jalep Says:

Better yet the results in Nice. very happy about those.


jalep Says:

Actually Kuznetsov isn’t quite through — might be Rosol, Stan’s next opponent.


anki Says:

Nadal or Murray. Novak will be out in the QF or SF.


jane Says:

margot, i agree about beefy.
but i am even more cynical in that i think he doesn’t give his best at non-slam events. i even think he kind of “pre-lost” his match vs rafa at monte carlo.
stan is a sly fox.


jane Says:

i see rafa has – by far – the most votes, which makes sense, after all. he’s been building towards this event since IW – or arguably last last year. I’d put faves as: 1. Rafa 2. Novak 3. Murray 4. Wawa and Kei


J-Kath Says:

My timid contribution is: Murray to win.
Why: Up to recently Andy took his time to get going and the best of 5 gave him the confidence to keep hold of the belief.
Yes, true, he hasn’t Won a GS since his back op. but it kinda suits the fact that he usually has a period in most matches when he loses concentration. Provided he is doing OK he believes (rightly or wrongly) that he has time to come back….and win.


J-Kath Says:

PS: Kei will do well but I don’t for a second think Kei will win.

Doubt Stan will repeat his out of the world last year performance.

So, unless there is a huge surprise it is one of: N/A/R.

Cheers
K


Daniel Says:

The problem with Murray is that he lost his first Slam final in all Slams so far, so hard to believe at his first RG final he would be able to win it. Of course, it also depends who is across the net.If it’s not Djoko or Nadal he would be favorite against everybody else. And even against those two he will have his chances.

Now one thing is sure, either Djoko or Murray will have a great draw the minute tomorrow they see who got Nadal. Wawa may even win Nice (win 4 straight matches( to add a little hope, but even so small one. One of Djoko or Murray will have the privilege to have to face only one of Djoko/Murray/Nadal, and that in finals. Can’t wait to see who the lucky one will be!


Dave Says:

So the question is, Whoever gets Nadal on their side is automatically the underdog? We saw what happened when Del potro pushed Djokovic for almost 5 hours in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2013. Murray beat him in straight sets. If Nadal pushes either of these 2 for 5 hours or Nadal comes through in 5 hours, does that give the guy on the other side the advantage?


James Says:

Draw will matter quite a bit as always. Whoever gets Nadal in the semi (Djoke or Murray) will be at a disadvantage – assuming all three make it to the semi. Rememnber, this is the French Open, usually the most unpredictable slam until Nadal showed up.

My ordering would be Murray, Djokovic, Nadal – then Thiem, Nishikori, Krygios as distant 4th, 5th and 6th.

Fed is not even a favorite at Wimbledon. French was a long shot anyway.


Daniel Says:

Yes Dave,

Only if that match is long, more than 3 and a half hours and could be played in 2 days like last year.

I don’t even mind a long match, players can regroup, as long as they have a day in between. It’s like Slams make you get used to one day rest and if the conditions spoil the party, suddenly you have to play back to back days in later rounds.


Danica Says:

I am dreading the draw :(


courbon Says:

Draw is out…
Nadal and Djoko in same half
Nadal has Thiem and Novak gets Berdych for QF
Wawrinka and Murray other half
Murray gets Nikishori for his QF…
any thoughts?


RZ Says:

Posting on multiple threads so everyone has a chance to see this….

The racket bracket challenge has been created! Enter at http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracket
FrenchOpenATP/TennisXFrenchOpenBracket/default.aspx. If you see a pic of Andy on the yoga ball, you are in the right place.

Entries need to be made by May 22 at 5am ET – that’s less than 2 days so get cracking! If you are using a different name on the bracket challenge, please leave a comment with your Tennis-X name so we know who you are.

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