With the draw coming out today, me and fellow writer Joey Hanf will make our picks for this years French Open. We will pick the Semifinalists, Finalists, and Winner. Then we will pick 2 sleepers, who must be outside the top 10. Two dark-horses, who must be unseeded. And we will pick two Early Exits from players who must be inside the top 16.
SEMI – FINALISTS:
Novak Djokovic: The top half is probably the easiest to pick the semi finalists. I see Djokovic with 1 or 2 tough matchups on his way to the semis. Dimitrov in the third round, and Haas in the quarters (based on my picks). I don’t see Kohlschreiber or zit faced Dolgopolov being huge threats to Nole in the fourth. Novak’s first round against Goffin will be fun to watch, but very one sided. Dodig in the second round will be easy too. Dimitrov beat him in Madrid, but that was best of 3 sets. It would take a monstrous effort from Dimitrov to defeat Novak. The same goes for Haas. Haas also beat him this year in Miami. But Haas will have more trouble long term in a slam given his age (34) and the tough road he has to the quarters.
Rafael Nadal: This is too easy. Brands could cause problems in the first round with his big serve and groundstrokes. Brands was going to be one of my dark horses until I saw the draw. Nadal is the king of clay and is probably the greatest all time on the surface. A loss to anyone before the semis would be considered a huge upset. Nadal would go on to play Klizan in the second round and I see no problems there. Third round gets a little more interesting with either Fognini or Rosol. Rafa just crushed Fognini in Rome so I am sure Nadal would have no problems there. Rosol pulled off that huge upset last year at Wimbledon and while I think Rosol could hurt Rafa with his big game, there is no way he could repeat his performance from last year. But would definitely be entertaining. Fourth round should not be any problems either. It will either be the winner of the Paire/Baghdatis matchup or Nishikori. Paire and Nishikori have been playing good ball recently. Nishikori beat Roger in Madrid and Paire had a couple solid wins in Rome. But neither have the firepower to consistently beat Rafa on the clay. The quarters become much more interesting with Janowicz, Wawrinka, and Gasquet in that quarter. Gasquet and Wawrinka have one handers so that’s basically enough said. If Janowicz can get to the quarters, that would be a very interesting matchup. His big serve and variety I think could give Nadal problems. But I will not be going against the seven time champion in this case.
Milos Raonic: The breakthrough has come for the Canadian superstar. Milos should cruise against Malisse in the first round and then should go up against Frenchman Michael Llodra. Llodra is a very crafty player with a lot of variety and a solid serve. But his return is not good enough to get past the big Canadian. I like Milos against fellow giant Kevin Anderson. Better return and groundstrokes than the South African. Then would come the showdown with David Ferrer. While Ferrer made the semis of the French last year, his game does not match up well against Milos. Raonic has the weapons to hit through Ferrer. But it will require a great effort from Raonic. He will have to serve big and return consistently to pull the upset. I have Raonic beating upset minded Ernests Gulbis in the quarters and he will reach his first Grand Slam semi – final.
Roger Federer: Roger will have no problems with his first two rounds, all against qualifying players. Although I love Somdev Devvarman in the second round, he has no shot. Roger will probably play Julien Benneteau in the third. Julien has given him trouble in the past, most notably, the fiver setter at Wimbledon last year where Benneteau was 2 points from winning. The French crowd will be up for that one, but I like Roger there. He will play Simon in the fourth round and Roger just crushed him in Rome. Simon’s game will only work if Roger is way off and I don’t see that happening. The quarters will be a toss up in my opinion. Jo Willy Tsonga, one of my favorites, always shows up to play in Paris. The crowd will be roaring. Tsonga had match points against Djokovic last year in the quarters as well and could not finish the job. This is a 50 – 50 match in my opinion. I took Roger only because this could be his last chance at winning a French Open Title.
Djokovic vs Nadal: This has the makings for a classic. Djokovics’ poor play has been noticed recently, but he always shows up to play Rafa. That being said, there isn’t enough you can say about Nadal and his comeback. However, if Djokovic is on his game, he will be tough to beat. Once again, this is probably a toss up. I like Djokovic in 5.
Federer vs Raonic: Roger’s experience will prove to be too much for the tall Canadian who puts in a valiant performance in the first set and then starts to fade in the next 2. His lack of experience on the big stage will prove costly. Federer in straight sets.
Djokovic vs Federer: Once again, Federer and Djokovic. There is a lot at stake in this final. Federer’s last shot at a French and Djokovic’s chance to win his first French and continue his quest for 4 slams in one year. Once again, I will take Roger in 5. Djokovic’s fitness will take a toll because of his match against Rafa and Roger. I take Roger in 5 and his second French Open title.
Tommy Haas: I like Haas’ section of the draw to make a run to the quarters to play Djokovic. He will play a couple of Americans (Sock and Harrison/Isner) in the second and third rounds. I think Verdasco will upset Tipsarevic in the second round and that will be Haas’ opponent in the fourth round. Haas’ experience will get him through to the quarters.
Milos Raonic: (Read above under semi finalists).
Ernests Gulbis: Big game Ernests is playing big ball again and is my upset pick. I think if Monfils doesn’t upset Berdych in the first round (which I have), Gulbis will. The last time they played in a slam, Gulbis won in straights at Wimbledon. He will pull of one more upset against Almagro in the fourth round before falling to Milos in the quarters.
Fernando Verdasco: It’s not often you pick a Grand Slam semi finalist to be a dark horse, but that’s what it has come down to for Verdasco. He has had a rough year with his ranking dropping to below 50. But he has been playing better recently. He lost to Ferrer in 3 long sets in Rome a couple weeks ago and I saw signs of the old Verdasco. His match up against Tipsarevic is intriguing in the second round. Tipsy has been playing awful tennis this year and I think Verdasco will take advantage of that. Verdasco will have no problems against Youzhny in the third round and will go down to Haas in the fourth. But a big stepping stone for Verdasco to move back up the rankings.
Tomas Berdych: Despite his good play recently, he was handed an extremely tough draw at the French this year. Monfils in the first round will be difficult in the first round because we all know how poorly Berdych handles opposing crowds. If he gets by Monfils, he will play Gulbis in the second round. Gulbis has been extremely hot as of late and I don’t see Berdych getting by there either.
Janko Tipsarevic: Tipsy has not been at his finest this year and was handed a tough second round against Verdasco. I like Verdasco there (see above).
Well there you go. There is an extensive preview and my picks of the French Open. Enjoy!