TSF bracketologist Chris P tells us who he thinks will take the titles at this year’s French Open.
Before the draws for this year’s Roland Garros came out, I have to say I was eagerly anticipating the women’s draws as their field of competitors has been far deeper for the past few years. Much to my surprise, when the draws were announced, it was the men’s I was most excited about.
The men’s first round is loaded with great matches.
Read Chris’ picks for the top half of the men’s draw after the cut…
Looking at the seeds, Federer opens with Querrey, a surprise quarterfinalist in Monte Carlo this year with wins over Moya, Seppi, and Gasquet in the process. I think Querrey can take a tiebreak set off Federer, but not much more.
The winner of that match will most likely face Albert Montanes, a quarterfinalist in Hamburg and Barcelona this year (wins over Fish, Acasuso, Tipsarevic, Granollers, Karlovic). This one goes to Federer easily.
If Federer should beat Montanes, he’ll most likely face the winner of first round match Ancic vs. Seppi (the 31st seed) in the 3rd round. Despite Seppi’s success on clay this year, I pick Ancic to make it through. Ancic, a former top 10 player, was ranked 136 at the end of January and has climbed to 46 since then. Along that way he’s notched wins over Tsonga, Baghdatis, Soderling, Gonzalez, Murray (2x), Monaco, and Seppi in Davis Cup. Other than his loss to Ginepri in a 3rd set tiebreak in Poertschach this week, no one outside of the top 25 has been able to beat him all year.
Federer’s two most likely opponents in the R16 would be Karlovic or Monaco. Karlovic could have a tricky 2nd rounder against Benneteau. Despite the Frenchman’s win in Morocco this week and victory over Karlovic in Miami, I say Benneteau runs out of steam and Big Ivo takes it.
Another potential first round upset special is Soderling vs. Monaco, the 13th seed. BTW, how did Juan Monaco get to be seeded 13th?!? (Editor’s note: uhh he was having an amazing pre-ankle injury clay season!) His best win this year has been three tight sets over Ljubicic in the Poertschach semis this week. Soderling meanwhile is on a roll after leading Sweden to a victory at the World Team Championships in Dusseldorf this week where he went undefeated with wins over Canas, Berdych, Blake and Youzhny. Other big clay wins for him this year were over Andreev, Tsonga, Stepanek and Acasuso, in addition to a 5th set 7-9 loss to Nalbandian in Davis Cup in Buenos Aires. Soderling turns the tables against this Argentinian and wins 9-7 in the 5th.
The second quarter all comes down to one match in the first round: Wawrinka vs. Kohlschreiber (and the two have never played before). Wawrinka still wants to prove that his run to the Rome finals, Barcelona semis, Doha finals, and Indian Wells quarters were no joke, and since winning Auckland and reaching the 16s at the Australian, Kohlschreiber has been in a bit of a slump. With either of the youngsters Cilic or Haase awaiting in the 2nd round or mercurial Volandri or Gonzalez in the 3rd round, plus a relatively weak opponent in the R16, who will reach their first slam QF? And since a quick look at stats shows Wawrinka has reached the 3rd round in 7 of the 12 slams he’s played in his career, I think our money goes to the “Staniswiss”.
Wawrinka’s potential R16 opponent could be anyone. Andreev and Gasquet are the seeds at numbers 27 and 8 respectively. Gasquet hasn’t played well (or focused) since his SF appearance in Paris last fall, and his previous best performance at RG was the 3rd round in 2005. He’ll be lucky if he gets past fellow Frenchman Serra in the first round. I pick Sela, the “Minisraeli” to take him out in the 2nd round.
Andreev, the lower seed here, has his hands full with Starace in the first round. If Starace can make it past the Betfair booths set up just outside of Roland Garros, he takes a set off Andreev at best.
The Americans are assured at least one second-rounder this year as Robbie Ginepri faces off against Donald Young. Despite Ginepri making the Poertschach QFs this week and 3 SFs in the American spring swing (Delray Beach, San Jose, Las Vegas), I keep getting the feeling that Young is ready for a Slam breakthrough.
There are three real competitors here: Davydenko, Ferrero, and Tsonga. Out of the top 8 seeds, Davydenko has the hardest draw. First up is former AO champ Thomas Johansson whose best win on clay is a victory over Robredo … in 2005 … so let’s call this a “Wimbledon warm-up” for him. Next round will most likely be a resurgent Safin, a semifinalist here in 2002. 3rd round would be former #3 Ljubicic, a semifinalist in 2006. R16 will be either former RG champ Ferrero, or AO finalist Tsonga. Ferrero lost in the R16 to Rome finalist Wawrinka and Monte Carlo champ Nadal in their respective tournaments, while Tsonga hasn’t been able to live up to his AO results this year and has struggled with injuries. I pick Ferrero.
The key players here are Robredo, Stepanek and Ferrer. Hometown fave Santoro in his final French may be able to play spoiler (and nothing would be a grander sight this year). With Ferrer slumping since his run to the finals at the US Open and Masters Cup, I pick the underperforming Robredo.