Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2020 French Open.
Welcome to France, the land of castles, cheese, wine, baguettes, red clay courts and spectators during live tennis matches?
God, this can’t be, not in 2020. This will be so weird. The French Open gets underway in a few days and, yesterday, unveiled its main draws for this coming competition.
We’ll get there. For now, we’ll reiterate once again how weird it feels that we’ll get to watch tennis matches played in front of, like, paying and willing fans and customers in the stands. If the empty stands of Flushing Meadows were an odd sight last month for the US Open, we’re pretty sure the sight of people sitting in the stands of Court Philippe-Chatrier, in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, will be just as jarring.
Already, the nonsense has started.
Guy Forget: «C’est beaucoup plus sur d’être à Roland Garros, avec un masque, que de prendre le métro»
“It’s much safer to be at Roland Garros, with a mask, than to take the Metro.”
How does he think most of the public are getting to the tennis? Teleportation?#RG20
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 24, 2020
What’s what? You would like to see more of the circus? See below.
French Open confirms new government cap of 1,000 spectators a day (not 1,000 total people on site as misstated by an official last night).
There will be a drawing among ticket holders to determine spots.
Crazy to have such a big change so late…#RG20https://t.co/Z38DYWgo64
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 25, 2020
Look, whatever. We’ll have plenty of time to dissect and discuss the COVID-19 nonsense in Paris over the next two weeks. It’s silly and shameful to insist on having people in attendance, but when has silly and shameful ever stopped the silly and shameless?
For now, let’s dip our toes in the proverbial water and look if we can’t predict correctly how both singles draws may unfold. As always, we feel like you shouldn’t bet the house on these: we are bad and not good at these predictions. You’ve been warned.
Honestly, this draw should be all kinds of fun. Up top, we have former World No. 1, former 2018 winner and former year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018 Simona Halep, who’s been dealt a quarter that’s ultimately well within her reach. As for the second section, we’re putting all of our eggs on the Victoria Azarenka basket both because seeing her triumph is a big possibility given how well she’s been playing and because seeing her triumph warms our heart when you understand all that she’s gone through.
Well, we’re not putting all we have behind the Belarusian as there’s a Czech down in the draw that we see excelling. Look, the return of tennis has given us an US Open with relatively few surprises; why not shock the world here in Paris?
Quarterfinals: Simona Halep over Kiki Bertens; Victoria Azarenka over Elina Svitolina; Garbine Muguruza over Donna Vekic; Karolina Pliskova over Angelique Kerber
Semifinals: Victoria Azarenka over Simona Halep; Karolina Pliskova over Garbine Muguruza
Final: Karolina Pliskova over Victoria Azarenka
Not only did Novak Djokovic emphatically prove that he was over his snafu in New York with a resounding win in Rome, but he’s gifted a really, erm, easy draw here at Roland-Garros. Fun times among those in the Djokovic train. Standing in his way at the quarterfinals will be Rublev; good luck to the Russian.
As for the lower half of the draw, there is one grudge match that we truly wish to see in the semifinals. Please dear tennis gods, give us the Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal semifinal that we deserve. After living through and surviving the absolute clusterfuck that has been this year, it’s the bare minimum we deserve.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Matteo Berrettini; Andrey Rublev over Denis Shapovalov; Dominic Thiem over Diego Schwartzman; Rafael Nadal over David Goffin
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Andrey Rublev; Rafael Nadal over Dominic Thiem
Final: Rafael Nadal over Novak Djokovic
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG