The next Grand Slam tennis event gets underway this weekend on Sunday May 26 as the French Open begins at Court Philippe Chatrier in Paris. The world’s most famous clay court tournament should be as exciting as usual, but in reality, most fans and bettors feel there are only two players, Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain, who have a chance of winning this year’s men’s event when the final rolls around on June 9.
Britain’s Andy Murray won’t get a chance to display his skills since he had to pull out of the Open due to an injury and Roger Federer of Switzerland, who’s been struggling lately, was beaten by Nadal quite handily at the recent Italian Open. This means most experts feel it’s going to come down to Djokovic, who’s ranked number one in the world at the moment, and Nadal, who will be gunning for a record-setting eighth French Open title in the past nine years.
Nadal didn’t begin playing this year until February when he competed at the Chliean Open due to an injury he suffered last summer at Wimbledon where he was beaten by Lukas Rosol. Nadal tore a tendon in England and also had an inflamed left knee. But he’s back on track now and has entered eight tournaments since coming back, winning six of them. He reached the final in all eight events and managed to win 36 of the 38 matches he took part in. His high point came against Federer at the Italian Open where he committed just eight unforced errors while Federer made 32 and beat him in about an hour.
It appears Nadal has recovered well from his injuries, but he hasn’t played a three out-of-five sets match yet since coming back. Djokovic seems to have the best chance of stopping Nadal at the French Open. The Serbian’s not quite playing at the level he did in 2011 when he won 70 out 0f 76 matches and captured a trio of grand slams, but he’s pretty close to it. He’s made it to the final in six out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments and won this year’s Australian Open. Djokovic also beat Nadal in straight sets in the final at Monte Carlo in April.
Djokovic hasn’t been perfect though. He twisted an ankle during last month’s Davis Cup and has been beaten recently by Thomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the Italian Open and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria a week earlier at their showdown in Madrid. He’s spent a lot of time on clay courts over the past couple of weeks and he could be slightly worn down from it. If Djokovic ends up meeting Nadal it should be quite an encounter as well as a rematch of last year’s French Open final.
In last year’s meeting, Nadal took the first two sets pretty easily in the dry and hot playing conditions. However, the skies opened up a little after that and the surface of the court became wet. This affected Nadal’s topspin because the balls were saturated. The match turned in favor of Djokovic and he was able to win the third set. The rain got heavier during the fourth set and the match had to be suspended when it looked like Nadal was in deep trouble. When they finally played the fourth set the court was dry once again and Nadal took it and the match.
Even though Nadal and Djokovic may be the favorites we can’t overlook Federer. This guy is still ranked number three in the world and has won 17 major tournaments in his career. It’s just that he’s been struggling quite a bit so far this year and isn’t playing up to his usual high standard. Federer decided he’d take a bit of a rest by play mainly the top events this year, but it hasn’t really helped him. The tennis season is almost half over and he’s only reached one final so far, which was in Rome against Nadal. His French Open title came back in 2009, which gave him a career Grand Slam.
Unfortunately for fans, the second-ranked Andy Murray won’t be playing because of a lower-back injury which he picked up while playing Marcel Granollers of Spain at the Italian Open. Since Murray hasn’t had a lot of success at French Opens he’s going to concentrate on Wimbledon and defending the US Open crown later in the year.
It’s possible that fifth-ranked David Ferrer of Spain could have a good tournament in Paris. However, he always struggles against the top four while he has his way against just about everybody else. He won 75 matches last year and lost just half a dozen, so shouldn’t be counted out. But, he’s won just once in 10 attempts against the top-four ranked players. Since Berdych managed to upset Djokovic in Rome last week he’s another outsider with a shot and Dimitrov could also be included on that list.
The oddsmakers over at bet365 have Nadal listed as the favorite to take the French Open at 4/6 (-150) with Djokovic at 2/1 (+200), Federer at 8/1 (+800), Ferrer at 16/1 (+1600) and Berdych at 28/1 (+2800). Dimitrov is listed at 80/1 (+8000).