It isn’t the usual time of year to be heading to Roland Garros but with players taking the mandatory photos of the Eiffel Tower from their hotel room in this late September time the usually second major of the year is about to get underway.
It is set to be an interesting fortnight of tennis with new conditions, new balls and plenty of rain forecast but in the end we will see two singles champions crowned but who?
Unbeaten in 14, will Halep extend it to 21 for her second Paris title?
Simona Halep was locked in 2018 as she won her first major title with a string of magnificent performances backed by a wall of mental strength. 2019, she was kicked out early by Amanda Anisimova and now was the top seed has some pressure back on her shoulders.
I think Halep is favourite, 14 wins and 3 titles in a row which includes clay court titles recently in Prague and Rome the Romanian looks strong with Darren Cahill with the team after coming over from Australia.
There could be problematic matches for Halep but this is a major, Amanda Anisimova could be a third round opponent and then Vondrosouva so it won’t be easy but Halep has been playing very well since lockdown.
Rafa’s toughest challenge?
Do we take it all with a pinch of salt?
“The most difficult conditions for me ever at Roland Garros”
Nadal has won in Paris twelves times but this is new and we know he is not a big fan of the conditions which were similar in Rome. The ball was slower and heavier and Roland Garros has changed ball which has been heavily criticised by players including Thiem and Nadal.
Players have vocalised their concerns over shoulder and elbow injuries with these new balls and this cooler Roland Garros at this time of the year. Rafa could face some tough clay opponents in Fognini and Zverev before the final four but how far will he go?
Brits in Paris!
The more the merrier! Andy Murray, Heather Watson, Dan Evans, Cam Norrie, Jo Konta and Liam Broady will be in Paris in singles action. Kyle Edmund was a late withdrawal from Roland Garros
Andy of course has Stan in round one, Heather Watson has the inform Fiona Ferro who hasn’t played for a few weeks, Jo Konta opens up her week against Coco Gauff. Dan Evans has Kei Nishikori and Cam Norrie has lucky loser Daniel Galhan.
A name who isn’t usually in the main draw is Liam Broady. Liam said after his final win in qualifying having Andy Murray court side cheerleading helped pushed him through to his first Grand Slam main draw outside of Wimbledon and outside of receiving a wildcard. First up for Liam will be Jiri Vesely.
Not the draw that Dominic Thiem would have hoped for coming to his first event since winning the US Open in New York. Dominic said himself his preparations have not been ideal for the event but this is the situation he is in. Projected routes are only ever an idea but this route is not kind at all:
R1 – Cilic
R2 – Opelka
R3 – Ruud
R4 – Wawrinka
QF – Monfils/Schwartzman
SF – Nadal
F – Djokovic
Stan vs Andy
Of course it was going to be Stan up against Andy, it was fate! Two have been practicing together and remained in good spirits despite their injury issues after meeting here in Paris over three years ago.
The semi-final in 2017 was the last big stage we saw them compete on before Andy’s hip injury and Stan’s knee problem cutting short their time at Wimbledon a few weeks later. You can read more on this meeting below:
They have fought back incredibly from injury, Stan sent Andy a massive teddy and they played a fantastic final in Antwerp last year its ironic they are both set to play in Paris again.
No show in Paris?
Due to many reasons including travel concerns and injury a few big names won’t be in Paris this year and they are:
Juan Martin Del Potro
The ladies contenders?
I’ve already spoken about Simona Halep but who are the other women’s contenders in Paris?
Garbine Muguruza is definitely a contender. The thigh problem from Rome will be something to keep an eye on. Muguruza has been in exceptional form this year and it would be silly to rule her out of winning once again in Paris. Despite struggles over the last few seasons Muguruza does perform in Paris making atleast the fourth round in the last six years and the quarter finals in four of the last six.
Victoria Azarenka? My question would be, why would you rule Vika out? We saw her pick apart opponents in the last few weeks. The win over Kenin will give her delight, Roland Garros has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Vika but as I said in the piece below with this new team, confidence and the intensity then why not?
Serena Williams? I don’t usually rule Serena out of winning a title but I would be surprised if she won here. The lack of practice on a clay court could be a problem. Maybe the conditions will work in her favour more though, it will be an adaption for everyone.
Looking further afield I don’t see the challenge coming from Pliskova and Svitolina in the final four, I think both players are looking for their best and I would be surprised if they found it here. Likewise for Kvitova and Bertens who haven’t found a consistent run of form.
If I’m looking for players to make a run and maybe a surprise, Vondrousova was a finalist last year. At the same time Rybakina was impressing before lockdown as was Ons Jabeur and Angie Kerber is always a danger!
No Fernando Verdasco!
The situation out of Roland Garros is, if you get a positive test for Covid-19 you are out. From what is being said there is no second test to clarify, it is one strike and out as Fernando Verdasco has found out.
This is not the first case of a player testing positive and being withdrawn but further tests done externally giving a negative.
Mens opening matches…
The men’s draw has really given us some tasty round ones to get stuck into!
Jannik Sinner v David Goffin
Andy Murray v Stan Wawrinka
Dan Evans v Kei Nishikori
Alexander Zverev v Dennis Novak
Marin Cilic v Dominic Thiem
Gael Monfils v Alexander Bublik
Roberto Bautista Agut v Richard Gasquet
What an incredible line-up this will be in the opening couple of days with some big names packing their bags earlier than anticipated!
One incredible story out of qualifying of Emilio Gomez who has qualified for a Grand Slam for the first time on the eighth time of asking over 6 years and the history behind his family connection with Roland Garros…