Men’s French Open Preview: No One Stopping Nadal, Tough Draw For Djokovic

by Sean Randall | May 23rd, 2019, 4:39 pm

Why bother playing the French Open now because Rafael Nadal might not drop a set en route to what looks to an easy run to a ridiculous 12th title in Paris.

The draw, which just came out, looks great for Rafa and equally horrible for his main threat, Novak Djokovic.

Roger Federer of course is a big story and for his time away the tennis gods did him a solid with a manageable draw.

Juan Martin Del Potro also returns as well as do a growing number of younger players. But, when all the red dust settles, it should be another Rafa win as I just can’t find anything to threaten him this upcoming fortnight. Can you?

So, to the draw!

I think this is by far the toughest section with Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini. Djokovic will open against the dangerous Hubert Hurkacz, then maybe Sam Querrey followed by French vet Gilles Simon (or Jaume Munar). Fourth round will be tough against Coric (or perhaps Shapovalov) and then quarters against Zverev, if the German even survives a Dusan Lajovic upset bid. So for Novak, nothing easy really but I got to think he’ll find a way especially if upsets do happen. There are also a bunch of good first rounders with Shapo-Struff, Kyrgios-Norrie, Fognini-Seppi and Fritz-Tomic. It’s a fun quarter but only one man can be left standing.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic

The last three years for Dominic Thiem in Paris: semifinals, semifinals, finals! That’s damn good and I think he’s in store for another good run. Thiem should be in business out to the fourth round where he could collide with Gael Monfils, who also has a great draw. I like Thiem there and then I like him to beat Delpo in the quarters and return to the final four. Delpo did well in Rome and while I worry about the best-of-5, I like the Argentine’s draw with Nico Jarry to start (a tough opener), then Mackenzie Mcdonald, Felix or Feli in the third before Karen Khachanov in the fourth. And that match against the Russian will wear him down just enough for Thiem to take advantage.
The pick: Dominic Thiem

Also in search of that second Career Slam, Roger returns to what looks like a favorable draw. Lorenzo Sonego is very good on clay, but I just think he’ll be overwhelmed by the occasion and by the Swiss. Then Malek Jaziri followed by another Italian, Matteo Berrettini. And it could end there. If not, then Diego Schwartzman finishes him off. I just don’t see Federer getting through if the conditions are cool and damp and he’s forced to play a 5-setter against one of these true clay courters. And like Delpo, by the time he hits Schwartzman he may be running low. Plus, he’s got the grass ahead, so why risk it? Anyway, so I’ll go Schwartzman out to the quarters to face Stefanos Tsitsipas who gets out of a tough section with Frances Tiafoe, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, Christian Garin and Stan Wawrinka. Any one of them could emerge, but the Greek has proven to be a top class player all year and he’ll have too much firepower and moxie for Schwartzman in the quarters
The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Nadal didn’t need to be in the easiest section but he got it. And as I said, he probably won’t drop a set with his opposition looking like two qualifiers to start, then David Goffin followed by Guido Pella in the fourth. In the quarters, I’ll go Kei Nishikori who edges out Daniil Medvedev for that spot. But by week 2, the injury-riddle Japanese will likely have something physically going sideways and Rafa will roll. So unless there’s some injury to Rafa, this looks like more of what we saw in Rome…
The Pick: Rafael Nadal

Djokovic d Thiem: Playing better tennis, Djokovic avenges French open loss to Thiem back in 2017 and sets himself up just three sets from a second Career Slam and Nole Slam.
Nadal d Tstisipas: Nadal gives another lesson to the kid who does get a set.

Nadal d Djokovic: Nadal too fresh, too hungry, make that a dozen, please.

Yes, Djokovic can beat Nadal — he’s done it before in Paris. But should they meet in the final, I just feel like Nadal will be in much better shape than Novak who has a far tougher draw. And to me, that’s the difference.

As for outsiders, you do wonder about Zverev. Fognini has done well in Paris. Wawrinka? Coric, Delpo, Monfils are some others if the draw opens up.

But it looks to me like the four best players during the clay lead-ups will keep their form in Paris and I just don’t see anyone outside of them (really 3 minus Stefanos) taking the title.

Another factor — especially for someone like Federer — is the weather. Rainy and damp conditions will help some, hurt others. And the same goes if it’s hot and dry, though the forecast for now reads more like somewhere in between.

The tournament kicks off Sunday and concludes a few Sundays later. Vamos.

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48 Comments for Men’s French Open Preview: No One Stopping Nadal, Tough Draw For Djokovic

SAX Says:

I think we all know that it’s an extreme longshot for Federer. I think he’s playing here to establish more match rhythm for one last shot at Wimbledon.

RZ Says:

I’ll have the Racquet Bracket up by some point tomorrow. I think the FO starts on Sunday (rather than Monday) so there will be less time to fill it out.

chrisford1 Says:

Djoker got screwed again. And if you think about it, all the possibles in the Top half with Djokovic got screwed. Coric, Del Potro, Fognini, Thiem, Zverev, Khachanov, Monfils

Solomon Ekegbu Says:

Tennis x prediction always wrong. There’s so many unknowns in this tournament. As a Nadal fan, this year is one of his weakest.

We could see a soderling. Have no idea who it is. Hope he wins but so many could challenge for the title. Thiem and Tsitsipas are both playing well and Djokovic can always beat Nadal

skeezer Says:

“Djoker got screwed again.”
LOL NOT. The only guys scary for him on that list are Theim and Delpo of which he is only going to face ONE of them and not until the SEMIS.

Tennis Fan Says:

I don’t see Tsitsipas getting through Frances Tiafoe, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, Christian Garin and Stan Wawrinka quarter.

Kimberly Says:

I don’t see Federer beating Nadal in the semi. Only one I think that really can take out Rafa on clay in a best of 5 grand slam final if he is on form is Djoker

tennismonger Says:

Sadly, I’m not seeing much upside for Fed’s campaign either.

But as for challengers, Tsitsipas could be the new Soderling…

chofer Says:

I’m more concerned of FAA than Thiem. Never an easy draw for Delpo, but I guess last year’s was enough. Even big-hitting Chilean Jarry is annoying for a first round.

If Rafa doesn’t get the 12th, then the hole he could create on his side would be the size of the biggest crater in the Moon (so, of course I’m assuming he gets to the finals no?)

Ronn Says:

My boy always gets screwed at the French. Had to play over 2 days against Murray and was totally gassed when he lost to Stan in that final or else he’d have 2 FO by now. But who knows? Last year he made it to the quarters playing at 60% so he should make it to the finals. The trick will be for Djoko to not get sloppy and get into long, drawn-out matches against the minnows so he can have energy for the semis and finals. Another French for the balding Spaniard is no gimme in a final against Djoko as Djoko will be ready while baldy might go into the final soft and untested.

Ronn Says:

Can anyone tell me why the old “Arrogant One” is even bothering to play this French? Best case scenario is that he makes it to the semis where Rafa will swat him away like an annoying mosquito so what’s the point?

Wog Boy Says:

I wouldn’t be worried for serial offender, if he makes that far he will call upon one of his spare injuries and won’t be playing against Tsitsipas or Rafa.

RZ Says:

Here is the Racquet Bracket link:
(Link address says 2018 but it’s been updated for 2019). You have until early Sunday to enter. Once matches start, it’s too late to enter. All are welcome to play!

Dave Says:

I don’t see Djokovic’s Quarter being very hard at all actually. Fognini doesn’t match up well against Djokovic. Zverev is still playing this week in long matches and if he even gets to the QF’s won’t have much left. Thiem and Del Potro have to play each other and one will be tired against Djokovic. SO I actually see things working out well for Djokovic. Also, I see the Rome match as something more alarming for Nadal than Djokovic. Nadal outplayed Djokovic in the second set and still lost it 6-4. He got nervous again. Djokovic was obviously tired and not even close to his best and still pushed it to a 3rd set. I still think Djokovic at full strength beats Nadal at full strength in a best of 5 set match, even on the Clay. The Australian Open Final happened and winning at a major will be different. And I’m actually surprised that No one is talking about the new Stadium. That will be different and change things to a degree. It can’t be identical to the old stadium. Nadal says it won’t be any different, but I disagree. Even looking around and not having the same familiarity changes things. And Nadal likes things to be the same. So I think that the new stadium doesn’t count for nothing.

skeezer Says:

Correct Dave. It just the church over playing Djoker chances. He has a great draw.
In “cool” news. The Laver cup has officially become an ATP event
Kermode is quoted.
Federer of course helped create the event ;)

lulenubbins Says:

As a Rafa fan, I am pleased with this draw.

Loving that Rafa’s two biggest threats, Nole and Thiem, will likely meet in the semis. It should be a dog fight that tires the victor out.

Do I see Schwartzman is picked to beat Roger? Ouch!!

RZ Says:

I agree that Djokovic has a pretty good draw. Hurkacz is a tough first rounder, but I don’t see him pulling the upset in a best of 5 setting. DelPo hasn’t had enough match play recently to do much damage at the FO, and Thiem just doesn’t match up well against Djokovic.

Seth Says:

Rome was a fluke. Djokovic owns Nadal now, and that’s not likely to change when the stakes are this high.

Dave Says:

Actually, 3 Players that I thought could be draining matches for Djokovic are all on the other side. Schwartzman(Took Djokovic to 5 sets at the French). Wawrinka(Beat Djokovic in 4 sets in the French Open Final), And Medvedev(Pushed Djokovic the hardest in Australia this year). I actually think if he gets that far, Del Potro would have a better chance of Beating Djokovic than Thiem in the SF’s.

Dave Says:

And Zverev is the easiest of the 4 in the QF’s. He is playing right now in another long match. And if he wins, plays the finals tomorrow. Then he has to play hardworking, never give up, Millman in his first round match. To much tennis for Zverev to hurt Djokovic at all.

Daniel Says:

Thanks for the link RZ, count me in.

Agree Kimerly, only Djoko (and a restedone) can challenge Nadal in a RG final.

senorita Says:

Ronn Says:
“Another French for the balding Spaniard is no gimme in a final against Djoko as Djoko will be ready while baldy might go into the final soft and untested.”

Lol. Rafa had given 3 of his 4 opponents in Rome bagels and breadsticks before meeting a tested Djokovic in the final but still gave Djokovic a bagel and a breadstick as well.

skeezer Says:

Since we are spewing out bagels – Rafa has received one himself (on his fav surface Clay no doubt) from the GOAT.


Dave Says:

Actually it happened on all 3 surfaces Skeezer.

Giles Says:

Oh sh*t, he found his soapbox!

skeezer Says:

Lol Giles,
Re read Daves post. Rinse and repeat 🤪

senorita Says:

skeezer Says:
“Since we are spewing out bagels – Rafa has received one himself (on his fav surface Clay no doubt) from the GOAT.”

Which Rafa returned with pleasure at the 2008 RG Final, allowing Federer 4 just games.

skeezer Says:

I know was just having fun with it. The top 3 have had their moments against each with Bagels except…… Djoker?
Wouldn’t be surprised to find that Rafa has given out Bagels on Clay more than anyone.

Dave Says:

None for Djokovic against either Nadal or Federer.

Annie Says:

Ronn…why all the name calling? baldy…arrogant one??? Don’t U just hate it when someone is so judgemental???

lylenubbins Says:

@ Dave – – Thiem narrowly lost to Novak in Madrid, which is faster than RG. RG suits Thiem better and he wants the tile, and he just beat Rafa in Barcelona, so Novak will have his hands full if they meet in the semis.

That said, I think it is Novak’s tournament to lose and I say that as a Rafa fan who wants Rafa to win.

John Says:

Keep in mind that the only reason Novak and Roger have French Open titles is because Rafa had injuries.Otherwise,he would be at 13 right now.His performances on other clay court matches doesn’t seem to mean much when it comes to the French.This very well may be an unbreakable record!Roland Garros should name a court after him when he retires.He deserves it!RAFA IS THE GREATEST!!!

Ross Harland Says:

Keep in mind Nadal has two W and one AO because of the Fed’s injuries (and officials incompetence at W). Your man has not won the FO and should he meet Novak in the final he will be haunted by that shellacking at this year’s AO. Oh, but of course, he was injured then to, no?

senorita Says:

John, completely agree.

Dave Says:

That’s like saying the only reason Rafa won in 2013 against Djokovic is because Djokovic touched the net in the 5th set when he was up a break 4-3 and 40 all. Or the only reason Nadal won the 2014 Final against Djokovic was because Djokovic was vomitting during the match and clearly wasn’t 100% and started feeling better again in the 4th set. You see that doesn’t work either.

Dave Says:

Or the 2012 Final where Djokovic won 8 games in a row because of the conditons changing. And Nadal got so upset to stop the match. If they are allowed to keep playing in conditions that clearly don’t help Nadal, Djokovic wins. Again, it doesn’t work.

skeezer Says:

Completely agree ;)

Giles Says:

Lol Skeezer, you finally found a friend. Not for long tho, as soon as his fave gets thrashed he will be outta here waiting for the next GS!

skeezer Says:

Giles whats a matter u miss HR?

Dave Says:

@ Giles,

Actually I prefer Djokovic and Nadal over Federer. I just try not to be biased and see things the way they are.

Giles Says:

Actually where is HR?
Skeezer. Did you drive him away? Lol

Wog Boy Says:

Dave, are you the Dave, American living in Mexico?

Dave Says:

@ Wog Boy,

Yes. I am Canadian actually. My Grandfather, who I have never met is Yugoslavian. I gave you the last name. Ivazic wondering if that was Serbian or Croatian. I barely comment on the form anymore. That’s why you maybe didn’t recognize me.

Wog Boy Says:

I recognised your style, fair and unbiased, you are good man, you also gave me few life advices, I am not sure I followed them, but I’ll give another go. I think it’s most likely “Ivezic”, it can be either, it use to be very good football player Zvonko Ivezic, from Novi Sad, just north of Belgrade.
Good to read you again, cheers.

Wog Boy Says:

Yes, you did mention you are Canadian with background from my old country. Actually I did recognise you, just wanted confirmation, you are always fair, unbiased and not confrontational, pretty calming “voice”.
You are good man, I do remember few life advices you gave me, though I didn’t follow them through, sorry:(
Your grandfather surname is more likely to be “Ivezic” than “Ivazic”, maybe somebody spelled it wrongly and never changed it, it can be either of the two nation, best way to know if you know which denomination he was born in, which church he was attending, unless he was ateist.
Good to “see” you again, cheers.

Dave Says:

Ivezic sounds right. I saw the name on my dads original birth certificate when I was maybe 16 years old. So it’s been awhile. Thank you for the kind words.

FedExpress Says:

Lul, All predics in Fed quarter gone down the toilet. Ste still there though

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