by Kevin Craig
The biggest news of the day at the French Open on Friday wasn’t caused by something that happened on the court, rather by a decision made by nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard, who was the No. 4 seed in the event this year, announced that he had withdrawn himself from the tournament.
“This is one of the toughest press conferences of my career…If it wasn’t Roland Garros, I probably wouldn’t have taken the risks (of playing with an injury). It’s the most important event of the year for me,” said Nadal.
The cause of Nadal’s surprising decision was a left wrist injury that the Spaniard has been dealing with for the past “couple of weeks”, just another bullet point on a long list of injuries that have hindered his success in the past few years.
Nadal first felt pain in his wrist three weeks ago when he played in the quarterfinals of Madrid, but attempted to play through the pain in Rome, and then in Paris.
After beating Sam Groth and Facundo Bagnis in his first two matches in Paris, losing only nine games in the process, many began to believe that Nadal would be able to provide a tough challenge to Novak Djokovic in the latter stages of the tournament.
Unfortunately for Nadal and fans of tennis, there will not be a 50th meeting between the two great champions, as the pain in Nadal’s wrist continued to grow.
“I arrived here with a little bit of pain but I thought it was something I would be able to manage, but every day it got a bit worse,” said Nadal.
While many will be disappointed with his decision to leave the tournament, Nadal is doing what is best for him and his career as he is weary of the potential problems that would come from playing with his injured wrist.
“It’s not broken, but if I keep playing it’s going to be broken in the next couple of days,” said Nadal.
“To have won the tournament I would have had to play five more matches and the doctor told me that was 100 percent impossible,” said Nadal.
Nadal and his team hope that he will be able to play in Wimbledon and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that happens.
“I need a couple of weeks with the immobilization. Then we’re going to do the treatment and we hope the treatment works well. We expect to recover quick,” said Nadal.
Nadal’s withdrawal grants fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers a walkover into the fourth round.
On the court, headlines were made by 23-year old American Shelby Rogers as she upset two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova by a 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0 score line.
After racing out a hot start, converting on three out of four break points and saving the only one she faced in the first set, Rogers began to be challenged by Kvitova in the second set. The Czechwoman had a breakpoint in Rogers’ first service game of the second set but couldn’t convert, but did grab her first and only break of the match when Rogers was serving up a break at 4-3 and looked like it could be a turning point.
Kvitova went on to take the second set in a tiebreak, but was unable to carry the momentum over into the decider. Rogers stood strong and continued to play well as she had done all match, going up 0-40 in Kvitova’s first service game and breaking for an early lead. Kvitova had a look to break right back, but once again failed to convert on a break point, and that was ultimately where the match ended.
Rogers went on to break twice more, with a hold at love thrown in the middle, to close out the set and the match.
Rogers, the No. 108 player in the world, earned her first appearance in the fourth round of a major with her win over the No. 10 seed. The moment gave Rogers, and fans of American tennis, plenty to cheer for and be emotional about.
“It was incredible…I’m one that cries very easily and I think everyone saw that. I immediately started crying,” said Rogers.
Irina-Camelia Begu, the No. 25 seed from Romania, will be Rogers’ next opponent.
The second Grand Slam of the year has started – and there‘s a big buzz about the victor-to-be already. Will we continue to see the same legendary players snatching their consecutive titles, or could we hope for a bit of fresh air in terms of a new star? Let‘s take a look at who‘s the most likely to win French Open.
A Debut Title for Djokovic?
While it may sound hardly likely that any title could be a first for a player like this, all tennis fans know that the only Grand Slam that Djokovic is yet to win is Roland Garros. He managed to go to the finals thrice – and was defeated by Rafael Nadal in 2012 and 2014 and by Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Could this finally be his year?
According to the UK-licensed bookie TonyBet, it absolutely can: the odds for his outright win are 1.80, which is way ahead of anyone else. It’s only fair, too, as the world’s #1 has double the points that #2 Murray managed to collect, and he’s been in incredible form for a ridiculously long time.
Djokovic started off his season with a sixth Australian Open title, and while he did have a blip in his performance when he lost to Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo, it seems to have gone away. He won Madrid Masters against Murray and even though the Scot managed to then stop him in Rome finals, the Serb remains a powerful contender.
Could Rafael Nadal Make a Phoenix Comeback?
If Djokovic seems to have disproportional amounts of trouble at French Open, Nadal is the exact opposite. He’s got nine titles, of which four and then five were consecutive, although Rafa did struggle last year and only went through to the QF. If there’s a Grand Slam he can rule though, it’s this one: can we expect the old Nadal back?
The TonyBet bookies think that he’s got a fair shot at this as they’ve given him the odds of 4.75 at winning his tenth Roland Garros. The world’s #5 has been having struggles with his form since 2014 when he suffered an injury, and his first Grand Slam of 2016 ended in the first round.
However, since then he’s managed to win Monte Carlo and Barcelona, although he did lose to Murray in Madrid Master’s SF and to Djokovic in Rome’s QF. Nadal seems to have gained at least some of his form back, and the upcoming tournament will really be a good show of that. And who knows – maybe he’ll finally win another Grand Slam title!
Andy Murray to Keep Climbing?
The Scottish player had a pretty good season last year – even though he didn’t bring home any Grand Slam titles, his form was pretty good and he managed to push Britain’s national team to the first Davis Cup trophy in 79 years. Could Murray go on to win his first French Open?
Even though the furthest that world’s #2 has managed to go in this tournament before is semi-finals, TonyBet bookies seem to have a reasonable amount of faith in him. The odds for Murray winning Roland Garros are at 4.90 which is just a smidge behind what Nadal got. Obviously, Djokovic remains a force to be reckoned with, but even he can fall.
The Serb has already been a big hurdle for Murray this year, beating him at the finals of Australian Open and Madrid Masters. However, the Scot managed to win against Djokovic at Rome finals, which is definitely a very good sign – although it remains clear that this is one of the scariest opponents he could face.
Still, we never know what surprises may strike us. A dark horse win is always a possibility, and we have seen that plenty of times in the past. While Djokovic, for example, absolutely dominates the ATP ratings, that doesn‘t mean he‘ll get every title. In any case, there‘s a lot to look forward to in the French Open, so make sure to not miss it!
It is the ninth time that Rafael Nadal has won the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The win has increased Nadal’s French Open odds. He was crowned champion last Sunday after he won 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 against Gael Monfils in the final. He is now the second favorite to win the championship in Paris. It was an extra special day as Prince Albert II along with Princess Charlene watched from the royal box to see Nadal win a 28th trophy on the ATP tour.
It was the first win for Nadal in nearly two years. The 29-year-old went on a record winning streak of 46 matches unbeaten at the Monte-Carlo Country Club between 2005 – 2012. His run came to an end when Novak Djokovic beat him in the final in 2013.
The win puts Nadal back in the frame for the French Open. His form has suffered in recent years due to injuries and age taking its toll. He showed though at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters that he is back to his best. Many experts are making French Open tennis predictions that he will make the final.
The last time that Nadal won a competition on the APT World Tour was in August 2015. He won in Hamburg beating Fognini in the final.
The final between Nadal and Monfils lasted two-hours and 45 minutes. It was an epic battle and to begin with it looked like Monfils would be victorious. He made great shot selections when it mattered most, and his defensive side of the game was exceptional. Nadal hit his stride though and to pull the victory out of the bag.
Nadal proved he is back to full fitness at long last, and it was his energy that won it for him. Monfils was worn out having to return all of Nadal’s powerful baseline shots. After winning match point, Nadal was extremely emotional falling to his knees. You could tell exactly how much it meant to the player from Spain.
Monfils was graceful after the game saying the better man won on the day. He left Nadal played unbelievably well, and there was nothing he could do to counter it.
It was a staggering 100th final at tour-level that Nadal has competed he. The Spaniard has managed to win 68 of them. It is the sixth time that a player has reached 100 finals in Open Era on the ATP Tour. He is just a single trophy away from beating the record of most titles on clay-court. The record for the Open era is set by Guillermo Vilas and stands at 49. With the event in Paris on clay-court Nadal’s French Open odds of beating the record have tumbled. It could be a magical tournament for Nadal if he can carry on his form from Monaco.
It is going to be interesting in Paris to see if Nadal or Djokovic will make it to the final and claim the crown. It is hard seeing past them both when making French Open tennis predictions. If Nadal wins, he will beat the record and if Djokovic wins he will claim the only trophy missing from his cabinet. Hopefully the effects of Nadal’s recent loss in Australia won’t be affecting him, and both players bring their best game
“On This Day In Tennis History,“ the popular tennis book, ebook and mobile app, is now also available as an audio book. The calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis is now available in audio form via Audible.com and can be purchased here on Amazon.com: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day/dp/B0178PCQH4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449508067&sr=8-1 The narrator is Tiffany Bobertz, a theatre production veteran graduate of Augustana College and resident of Tempe, Arizona. The audio version is available for sale for $26.21 or $14.95 with an Audible.com membership.
The popular mobile app version of the book is available for $2.99 at www.TennisHistoryApp.com. The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:
“On This Day In Tennis History,” compiled by Randy Walker, is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Don Budge, Maria Sharapova, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
“On This Day In Tennis History” is published by New Chapter Press while the mobile app was designed and developed in conjunction with Miki Singh, founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Fans can follow the app on social media at Twitter.com/ThisDayInTennis and facebook.com/thisdayintennis.
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest—and most quirky—moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “The 87 Rules For College” by Jacob Shore and Drew Moffitt, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer set up their anticipated match-up in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals with wins over Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, respectively, on Saturday in London. Djokovic and Federer played dominant levels of tennis, making fans around the world eager to watch the final that will take place on Sunday. The doubles event also witnessed very important tennis action as the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau were able to clinch the year end No. 1 doubles team ranking by beating Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semifinals. Rojer and Tecau will face Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea as they were able to continue their impressive form at the event by beating Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo.
Djokovic was able to defeat Nadal 6-3, 6-3, in a match that was much closer than the score line may suggest. The two players who have been in the best form this fall were unlucky to go up against each other, but it was Djokovic who was able to play the better tennis and win the bigger points. Nadal played well throughout the match but played one sloppy service game in the first set, which Djokovic gladly took advantage of. The first set was very tight as both men won an equal amount of points on the return, but that one bad service game from Nadal to start off the match was enough for Djokovic to run away with the set. The second was similar to the first as just a couple sloppy points from Nadal on his service games led to a comfortable win for Djokovic as he was able to get two breaks in the set. Nadal didn’t play poorly, he just simply could not hit through the wall that is Novak Djokovic. The incredible defense from the Serb, mixed in with his shot-making brilliance, was too much for the Spaniard to handle, as Djokovic was the one who saw his way into the final. Djokovic was able to avoid pressure situations in his service games as he didn’t have to face a single break point all match. He was able to dominate with the first serve, winning 89 percent of the points when he got the first ball in.
Federer won the all-Suisse semifinal against Wawrinka, 7-5, 6-3. After a tight first set that saw breaks exchanged early, Federer was able to break in the 12th game, giving him a one set advantage. This match saw a similar pattern to many Federer-Wawrinka matches, as Wawrinka was unable to raise his level of play after beginning to feel scoreboard pressure. Federer was able to grab a break early on in the second set and take control of the match as he saved the only break point he faced in the set. Overall, the difference in the match came from Federer’s ability to control his second serve points, as he won 65 percent while Wawrinka only managed to win 42 percent. That led to Federer being able to see six break points in the match and win three of them. The win now boosts Federer’s record to 18-3 against his compatriot, as well as sets up an appearance in the final at the World Tour Finals against Djokovic.
Rojer and Tecau were able to dethrone the Bryan brothers as the No. 1 doubles team in the world by winning their semifinal match-up, 6-4, 6-4. Similar to the Nadal-Djokovic match, it was a much closer affair than the score line would suggest. After trading breaks in the early stages of the first set, Mike Bryan was serving for his team at a deciding point late in the first set, but was given a time violation right before he started to serve, which according to him was the first he had received all year. This may have gotten into Mike’s head a bit, as he would go on to double fault, giving the break to Rojer and Tecau. After winning the first, they went on to control the second with ease, as they went a perfect seven-for-seven on their second serve points, only losing four points on serve total in the set. This win not only gave Rojer and Tecau the No. 1 doubles team ranking, but also saw them turn around an 0-4 record against the American brothers.
Bopanna and Mergea were able to continue their hot streak at the World Tour Finals as they took down the team of Dodig and Melo, 6-4, 6-2. In a match that lasted under an hour, Bopanna and Mergea were simply the better team, dominating on their first serve and converting on all four break points they had. Their level actually dropped in the second set, but luckily for them it dropped on the other side of the net, as well, as Dodig and Melo failed to win more than half of their service points. The win sees Bopanna and Mergea head into the final with a perfect record so far in London.
Federer and Djokovic set up the final that many fans expected to see by winning their matches on Saturday. Surely their final on Sunday will be a treat for fans as there will be high levels of tennis played by both men. The doubles final will see a Romanian on each side of the net as the 2015 Wimbledon champs Rojer and Tecau will face Bopanna and Mergea. The surprise team of the tournament, Bopanna/Mergea will hope to see their good run of form continue as they will need to play a high level of tennis against the team that will finish the year in the No. 1 spot, Rojer/Tecau.
by Kevin Craig
Rafael Nadal is a man on a mission and he is taking no stops along the way. At the ATP World Tour Finals Wednesday, the Spaniard was able to easily dispatch the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Andy Murray. With many tennis fans around the world writing off Nadal and not expecting him to return to the top level of the game, he has been given extra motivation at the end of this year that he hopes will carry over into the 2016 season. For now, though, Nadal will be pleased with his current run of form and that he has advanced to the semifinal round of the World Tour Finals.
Nadal’s win over Murray came with a 6-4, 6-1 score line. The match started off very tight as Nadal and Murray exchanged breaks to begin the match, and went on to play six games in the first set that went at least six points, including one that lasted 11 points. Nadal was able to get a break in the 10th game of the set, though, to earn himself a one set advantage. It was no looking back from there as the 14-time grand slam champion didn’t have to face a break point in the second set and won two-thirds of all the points played. Nadal’s consistently high level of intensity was able to fluster the British star, as Murray struggled throughout the match with his serve, only making 43 percent of his first serves and winning less than half of his service points overall.
In the second singles match of the day, Stan Wawrinka was able to fight off a hot start from David Ferrer to win 7-5, 6-2. The first set looked like smooth sailing for David Ferrer as he went up an early break, but appeared to tighten up a bit in the latter stages, allowing the 2015 French Open champion to win five games in a row from being down 2-5. Wawrinka got off to a bit of a sloppy start, as he was unable to hit through Ferrer’s great defense, but as soon as the smallest glimpse of an opportunity opened up to the Suisse, he took advantage of it and turned the match around. Similarly to the Nadal-Murray match, it was smooth sailing in the second set as Wawrinka broke in the first game and grabbed another break a couple games later to boost his lead and cruise to the win. Ferrer’s struggles on serve continued over from his first match, something that he will hope to fix in his final match at the World Tour Finals before heading into 2016.
In the doubles, the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau were able to go to 2-0 in round robin play, setting themselves up in a great position heading into their final round robin match. Their win on Wednesday came over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 7-6(3). Rojer and Tecau were able to get through the first set without much difficulty as they only lost three points on serve and didn’t have to face a break point. Needless to say, the second set was much more intense as the two teams exchanged breaks and ended up needing a tiebreaker to decide the set. The No. 2 team in the world were the better team on the day, though, as Rojer and Tecau were able to tough out the tiebreaker by a 7-3 score line.
The other doubles match saw Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut bounce back and give themselves a much better chance of advancing to the semifinal round by beating Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8. The French duo were the steadier team throughout the match as they won at least 85 percent of their first serve points in every set, including going eight-for-eight in the super tiebreak.
Not only did Rafael Nadal clinch his spot in the semifinal round, he was also able to clinch the first place spot of the group. This means the second place spot will be decided by the match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, which will surely be an exciting affair on Friday. As for the doubles, despite the loss on Wednesday, Matkowski and Zimonjic still see their semifinal hopes alive, as a win is needed over Dodig/Melo and Herbert/Mahut would have to lose to Rojer/Tecau in straights.
by Kevin Craig
Day two of the ATP World Tour Finals saw more of the same as day one, as the singles winners were able to win comfortably and the best match of the day came from the doubles event. Fans in the O2 Arena were able to witness everything from dominating performances to late match nerves, as the four of the eight best singles players and doubles teams began their journey towards winning the title.
The home favorite of the singles event, Andy Murray, took on David Ferrer in what was the most competitive match of the singles tournament so far. That isn’t saying much in itself, though, as Murray was able to dispatch the feisty Spaniard by a score of 6-4, 6-4. Ferrer struggled with his serve throughout the match, hitting eight double faults and only making 49 percent of his first serves. Murray was able to take advantage of this, having eight break points in the match and converting on three of them. The Brit was able to back up his service games as well, as he only dropped six points on his first serve. This was Murray’s fifth straight win over Ferrer.
The other Spaniard in the event was able to have much better fortune in his opening match as Rafael Nadal beat French Open champion Stan Wawrinka easily, 6-3, 6-2. After an entertaining first set, Wawrinka began to appear disinterested in the match after going down a break late in the first. This allowed Nadal to win half of his points on return throughout the match and earn himself 15 break points throughout the match. Wawrinka was able to save 11 of them, but the four that Nadal were able to win set him up to breeze through his first match in London. Nadal was able to turn around the recent run of form between these two, as Wawrinka had won three of their last four match-ups.
Likewise to day one of the tournament, the best match of the day came from the doubles event. On day two, it was the French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo defeating the US Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-7. The French pairing of Herbert/Mahut appeared to be well on their way to victory as they had a set and a break lead until the latter stages of the second set. When Herbert served for the match at 5-4, he double faulted on two match points in a row at 40-30 and on a deciding point to lose the break advantage. A team with the world number one doubles player will always take advantage of an opportunity like this, as Dodig/Melo took the momentum and were able to close out the match in a super tiebreak.
The other doubles match was much more straightforward as Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau breezed through their first match in just over an hour with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic. The veteran pairing of Matkowski/Zimonjic was unable to get it going as they only had one break point the entire match and struggled to barely win half of their own service points. The number two team in the world of Rojer/Tecau used the success in their service games to apply extra pressure on the return, earning themselves eight break points and four breaks throughout the match.
The wins of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal saw the Big Four go 4-0 in their opening matches of the World Tour Finals, possibly setting themselves up for what would be a very interesting knockout round. Ferrer and Wawrinka can beat anyone they play on any given day, though, so this group is far from decided. The same is true for the doubles event as Herbert/Mahut and Matkowski/Zimonjic will be looking to avenge their losses in their last two round robin matches.
Two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match in Flushing since the 2011 final, made a rare appearance in the more intimate Armstrong Stadium on Wednesday, where he faced Argentinian Diego Schwartzman. The smaller setting didn’t stifle the capacity crowd, who cheered the 14-time Grand Slam singles champion to a 7-6, 6-3, 7-5 win. “I feel that love, I feel that energy—I’ve always felt that energy when I’m playing in New York,” Nadal said after the match. “For me it’s the biggest satisfaction possible to feel the support of the crowd and the people, because that means a lot to me.”
Photo: Chris Nicholson, www.PhotographingTennis.com
The best players have dominated the French Open for years, but William Hill’s Lee Phelps is looking at the bigger odds to see if anyone is worth betting on for a shock.
The Slams are usually the realm of the favourites in tennis, but we saw Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic surprise the top order last year, so could the 2015 French Open go to a player a big price?
Rafael Nadal has dominated this tournament for a decade, with only Roger Federer winning the title in the last decade. In fact only two men outside the top four seeds have contested the final. Robin Soderling twice and in 2005 Mariano Puerto lost to Nadal when he won his first French Open trophy.
Let’s look at the men outside the top four in the betting though, just in case 2015 is a year we saw one from the pack upset the odds.
Federer has been a long time victim of Nadal’s at Roland Garros, but did win when Rafa was injured in 2009. The questions over his demise won’t go away, but to be fair neither will Fed.
A final appearance against Djokovic in Italy and his world ranking suggest that Federer will once again be a big player in Paris. He did pick up straight-sets wins against Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka too playing his best tennis on the dirt in quite some time.
He may not have the speed of his younger days, but the clay should benefit him. It’s just whether he can hold his own on the baseline.
Stan had a great 2014, but he’s finding it tougher going in 15 and his best at the French is a quarter final in 2013.
He has made people sit up and take notice by beating Nadal in Rome, but he is one of four to do that already this season including Fabio Fognini. That win was his first in 13 attempts against Rafa, but I still think it says more about the Spaniard.
Tennis odds makers know that the Spaniard is arguably the best players on the ATP circuit today never to have won a Grand Slam. Clay has historically been his best surface, and in 2013 he did all he could before facing Nadal in the tournament final – he did what everyone else has done and promptly lost.
I don’t see that famed fitness lasting out for another final appearance here. It quarter finals and out for Ferrer, but he will make life hard for one of the top seeds before saying Au Revoir.
Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The two home hopes will be talked about as usual in Paris, but it’s hard to see them going all the way. Monfils best is the semi-final in 2008 and Tsonga went to the last four stage in 2013.
Despite the clamour among the media and hopeful Parisian fans, I don’t see either player having the game or the consistency to make it to the last four. Tsonga is on a 5 and 4 run on clay this season and his compatriot is 7 and 3.
In truth I don’t see any of these outsiders troubling the big guns. But if I was taking one to creep into the final with my tennis picks it would be Roger Federer, just because of his pedigree and with a fortuitous draw he could find some out-of-form and less than fresh players. My pick for the final is Novak Djokovic versus Kei Nishikori, with Djokovic (-125 favorite on the French Open odds board) winning.