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.
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.
You Might Like:
Stan Wawrinka Rates Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Then Andy Murray As His Wimbledon Favorites
Rafael Nadal: Roger’s Had A Great Start To 2017 But Novak And Andy Are Still The Favorites
Novak Djokovic Leads My List Of French Open Favorites
Juan Martin Del Potro Targets A Grand Slam Title This Year
Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The 2014 Australian Open? Djokovic, Nadal Or…