On Sunday, the 2010 French Open gets underway. Before the first ball is struck at Roland Garros, here’s a taste of how the proceedings may unravel on the gentlemen’s side.
Since 2006, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had made it a habit of contesting for the trophy on the final Sunday. Last year, Robin Soderling interrupted that cycle by ousting Nadal in the fourth round. After descending a wee bit in the rankings, with a record three Masters clay court titles, Nadal returned to his familiar spot at number two this week. Therefore, this sets up the possibility of a final featuring defending champion Federer and his old nemesis Nadal.
By far, Nadal has been the best clay court player this season. As such, it’s almost a given penciling his name as a finalist. In examining the draw, Nadal, the top seed in the bottom section, appears to have a green line through the round of 16. In the quarterfinals, the Spaniard could see slight resistance from fellow countrymen Fernando Versdasco and Nicolas Almagro. The latter in particular competed well against Nadal in Madrid. Still, Nadal should pull through.
Also in the bottom half are Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic, potential semifinal adversaries for Nadal. Last year, Roddick had a career best showing in Paris by reaching the round of 16. In the first round, Roddick takes on veteran Jarkko Nieminen, then, a possible third round match with Juan Monaco. Hence, the American may say his goodbyes to Paris early. Assuming Roddick advances to the quarters, he could face the second best performer on clay this year, David Ferrer. Considering that Roddick has not competed since the Sony Ericsson Open and with clay being his least successful surface, it hard to imagine Roddick progressing to the second week.
Despite a clay title and two other finals, Djokovic went down in the third round in 2009. This year, Djokovic withdrew early in Serbia and his best result was the semifinals in Monte-Carlo. Consequently, for Djokovic, resting may be a blessing. On the other hand, it could be a curse, not allowing the Serb to be clay fit. With former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero potentially as a third round opponent and Ferrer in the quarterfinals, the third seed could have his hands full before getting a crack at Nadal.