This Monday, the most talented men and women in tennis will initiate the process of deciding who will walk away with the year’s second major. While Rafael Nadal is unequivocally the favorite on the men’s side, the women’s potential champion is much harder to predict.
Although Nadal going down to Roger Federer in Madrid added spice to the contest, the Spaniard remains the one with the target on his back. Fellow countrymen David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco, possible fourth round and quarterfinal opponents respectively, could provide further intrigue to the plot. But, Nadal has had no trouble dealing with either man during his spectacular clay court run. The most anticipated semifinal match up could be Nadal versus Brit Andy Murray. Murray showed moments of brilliance in their semifinal meeting in Monte Carlo which he lost. Murray may need to go through Spaniard Albert Montanes, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, pesky Czech Radek Stepanek or Marat Safin, a semifinalist in 2008. So Murray’s will have a mount to climb before getting to Nadal.
On paper, Federer should reach the quarterfinals without difficulties. However, lurking in Roger’s section are James Blake, Tomas Berdych and a couple Spaniards, any of them could serve as spoilers. In the quarters, Federer could face Andy Roddick. Yet, Roddick could have a rough time getting past his rivals since clay is not his best surface. Serb Novak Djokovic and Federer could meet in the semifinals. Having come back from a set and a break down to prevail their last two encounters, Novak will have confidence squarely in his corner. However, standing in Djokovic’s way in the preliminary rounds may be former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, top ten players Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
With defending champion Ana Ivanovic sporadically competing the last few weeks because of injury, repeating is unlikely. Undoubtedly, Ivanovic will probably be tested from the first round by Italian Sara Errani. World number one and 2008 finalist, Dinara Safina has shone on clay with two premier titles and consequently could be considered a slim favorite. But, nothing will be a gimme for the top seed with Victoria Azarenka, Carla Suarez Navarro or Venus Williams searching to make waves at Safina’s expense. Venus may encounter German Sabine Lisicki in the second round. Lisicki beat Venus in Charleston. Two Russians returning from injury, Vera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova, could clash in the early rounds. It would be surprising if either makes it past the quarterfinals.
Although Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva have had disappointing results recently, each has the experience to make it to the final and become champion. However, potential troublemakers from the bottom half of the draw include Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dane Caroline Wozniacki and Italian Flavia Pennetta, all have had success on clay lately. For complete details, log on to the official French Open web site at www.rolandgarros.com