French Open 2013: Men’s and women’s draw preview and analysis
May 25, 2013 · Print This Article
Greetings and welcome to the 2013 French Open Championships and the beginning of 2 weeks of coverage of the year’s second Grand Slam, courtesy of The Satellite Serve.
Coming to you daily during this year’s tournament, The Satellite Serve is back with predictions, opinions and analysis in relation to all the action from Roland Garros.
Tournament predictions – Men’s Singles
The happiest man after the men’s singles draw was announced in Paris yesterday was undoubtedly Roger Federer, and not simply because the Swiss legend has just joined Twitter and is accumulating followers at a furious pace.
The luck of the draw saw Federer’s biggest rivals for the French Open title, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, pitted in the same half of the draw. Whilst Federer will of course have to overcome some seriously talented opponents en route to the final (Federer’s half of the draw includes the clay-court warriors David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, along with the flamboyant Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the big-hitting Tomas Berdych), the second seed will see this tournament, for which both Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro are out injured, as a prime opportunity to capture his second French Open crown and turn around what has been something of a disappointing season to date by the Swiss maestro’s extremely high standards.
All of the talk in tennis circles of late is about Rafael Nadal’s incredible form since returning to the ATP Tour, and the Spaniard’s statistics most certainly make for impressive reading. In 8 tournaments since returning from a 7 month injury lay-off, Nadal has made 8 finals and collected 6 titles. Arguably the best of player of all-time on the red dirt, Nadal has lost just once in his career at Roland Garros, and will this year be looking to collect what would be an astonishing eighth French Open.
Nadal looks to have a relatively good draw prior to the semi-finals, with Italian clay-court specialist Fabio Fognini and Japan’s Kei Nishikori, a recent winner on clay over Roger Federer, the biggest threats lurking in the early rounds. A quarter-final against Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet is on the cards, but neither should seriously trouble the Spaniard on his favoured surface.
Despite Nadal’s scintillating start to the season, I’m backing top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic to claim his maiden French Open and complete a career Grand Slam. The Serb has made Paris his priority for 2013 and, although he suffered surprising losses in Madrid and Rome, Djokovic snapped Nadal’s 46-match winning streak in Monte Carlo – a huge confidence booster ahead of Paris.
Although Nadal has been near-untouchable in recent weeks on the red dirt, I think Djokovic still troubles the Spaniard mentally. The world number one is one of the few players not to be intimidated by Nadal and who backs himself to beat the Spaniard, even on the red dirt. Djokovic will go toe-to-toe from the baseline with the Spaniard without giving an inch and has the stamina and the shot-making ability to hurt Nadal.
Last year’s final in Paris between the pair went the distance and, after a poor start, Djokovic was somewhat unlucky not to record a famous comeback victory. I also think that the Serb is fitter than Nadal at present, with the Spaniard not having played any best of 5 set matches since his return to competitive tennis earlier this year. If their scheduled semi-final eventuates and goes the distance, I think Djokovic will be the stronger player physically and mentally down the stretch.
To my mind, Federer should more or less cruise through to the final Sunday of the tournament, but whoever comes through the Nadal-Djokovic half of the draw should be too strong for the Swiss master in the decider. I’ll take Djokovic to dismantle Federer in 4 sets.
Winner: Novak Djokovic
Finalist: Roger Federer
Semi-finalists: Nadal, Ferrer
Outside Chance: Berdych, Almagro
Tournament predictions – Women’s Singles
Last year I picked Serena Williams to win the ladies’ singles at Roland Garros and the American let me down big-time, collapsing in her opening round match against Virginie Razzano. But Williams has bounced back in the best possible way since that defeat, winning 67 of 70 matches since Paris last year and capturing the Wimbledon and US Open titles and the Olympic gold medal along the way.
Clay is most definitely not her strongest surface, but in my opinion Williams is clearly the best player on the WTA Tour when she is fully fit and playing at her best. That means that the American is the player to beat on any surface, including the red dirt, and I’m backing Williams to add to her lone French Open title, which she collected way back in 2002.
German left-hander Angelique Kerber is the player most likely to give Williams difficulty in her quarter of the draw, with the 15-time Grand Slam champion likely to square off in the semi-finals against either last year’s finalist in Paris, Sara Errani, or fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
In the bottom half of the draw, defending champion Maria Sharapova will be hoping to capitalise on her good form of late in order to make a spirited defence of her crown. The Russian has been placed in a difficult quarter, with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, former French Open finalist Sam Stosur and former world number one Jelena Jankovic all posing major threats.
If Sharapova can negotiate her way past those big names to earn a semi-final berth, she will likely face Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka or 2011 French Open winner Li Na. With Azarenka battling some injury problems since winning in Melbourne earlier in the year and not at her best on clay-courts, I’ll back Sharapova to make it through to another final in Paris.
Unfortunately for the second seed, I think the result will be similar to the recent final in Rome played between Sharapova and Williams, where the American was victorious for the loss of just 4 games. Sharapova’s game is perfectly suited for Williams, who likes to receive a ball with pace and who can climb all over the Russian’s weak and unreliable serve. I’ll back Williams to record a straight sets win in the final.
Winner: Serena Williams
Finalist: Maria Sharapova
Semi-finalists: Errani, Azarenka
Outside Chance: Stosur, Radwanska, Li Na
That’s it for today. I’ll be back with another serve once the schedule of play for Day 1 is released.