French Open 2017 Preview – Men’s Singles

The second Grand Slam tournament of the year comes at a fascinating time for the men’s game. Just when you think that a new generation of young guns are destined to break the stranglehold of the big 4, Federer and Nadal send a reminder that they are still the kings of the sport. Between them, they have won 4 of the 5 Masters tournaments so far this year.

However Federer has opted to skip the clay season to focus on the upcoming grass-court season. World Number 1 Andy Murray has struggled for form this year as has Novak Djokovic. Youngsters Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem have threatened to break through but it appears that this year’s French Open is Rafeal Nadal’s to lose. He is gunning for an incredible 10th crown at Roland Garros and is the red hot favourite.

Let’s have a look at some of the top seeds and how I think the tournament might pan out…

 

The Top Seeds

  1. Andy Murray (GBR) – Murray has really struggled since claiming the number 1 ranking late last year. Has a modest 16-7 win loss record this year so far and doesn’t bring a great deal of form into this year’s tournament. Clay is probably his least favourite surface but he did make the final here last year. Also, crucially, is not in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal.
  2. Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Similarly to Andy Murray, the defending champion hasn’t been in the best form this season. He has recently teamed up with Andre Agassi and he has also shown some decent form during the clay season so far. Was defeated in the final of the Rome Masters by Alexander Zverev but did show glimpses of dominance during that tournament. On a collision course with Nadal in the semis and if he can beat Rafa, I think he will take out the title.
  3. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – The 2015 Champion playing on probably his best surface. Loves the big Grand Slam matches and has had the perfect build-up with victory in the Geneva Open. One of the few in the draw who has the ability to beat any opponent. Would not have to meet either Djokovic or Nadal until the final which helps his cause slightly I believe.
  4. Rafael Nadal (ESP) – The ‘King of Clay’ is aiming to take out the Roland Garros title for an incredible 10th time. He seems to have put any injury worries behind him and is in terrific form having won 2 out of the 3 lead-up Masters tournaments. Plays so well on clay and is difficult to see anyone beating him at this year’s tournament.
  5. Milos Raonic (CAN) – Hasn’t done badly at Roland Garros in the past but I don’t believe the clay courts suit his power game. Was runner up at Istanbul at the beginning of the clay court season so he isn’t playing badly, but can’t see him being a genuine contender at this year’s event.
  6. Dominic Thiem (AUT) – The only man to have defeated Rafael Nadal on clay this year. An incredibly strong athlete who plays his best tennis on clay. In my opinion has the temperament and the game to be a grand slam winner. If he is to win the title this year, he will have to most likely beat 3 of the top 4 seeds to take it out. Certainly a chance but has a big challenge ahead of him.
  7. Marin Čilić (CRO) – The French Open historically has been the weakest of the majors for Čilić. He has never progressed beyond the fourth round but has a reasonable chance of bettering this with a top 8 seeding. Unfortunately for him I can’t see him matching it with some of the higher seeds on this surface at the business end of the tournament.
  8. Kei Nishikori (JPN) – Has been a bit out of sorts of late with some indifferent form and injury worries. Normally would be a contender on this surface with his athleticism and consistency but given his recent form and injury issues I can’t see him being a contender here this year.
  9. Alexander Zverev (GER) – In sensational form coming into this tournament. Comprehensively defeated Novak Djokovic to take out the title at the Rome Masters and has shot into the top 10 for the first time. Arguably is on the better side of the draw and could make a big impact at this year’s tournament. Definitely one to watch.
  10. David Goffin (BEL) – Has been very consistent over the past few seasons and rounds out the top 10 seeds at the French Open. Has an extremely consistent game and moves extremely well on all surfaces. Doesn’t historically perform well against the top players though. Can easily see him getting to the second week but would be surprised if we see him beyond the quarters.

Top Aussies

Nick Kyrgios – Seeded 18th this year. Has the ability to beat anyone on his day but I think that clay is probably the surface that suits him the least. Has not been handed the worst draw but may find it tough to get to the second week.

Bernard Tomic – Is unseeded this year and has previously stated that he doesn’t particularly enjoy playing on clay. He faces a very tough ask in playing Dominic Thiem in the first round and sadly I think it will be a short tournament for him this year.

 

My Tips

Winner: Rafael Nadal

I struggle to see anyone beating Rafa this year. He is playing some brilliant tennis once again and looks extremely ominous on the clay. Has had a busy schedule in the lead-up to the tournament so will be interesting to see how his body holds up. However I think he’s primed to take home the title for a 10th time.

Runner-up: Stan Wawrinka

A previous winner at Roland Garros and I expect him to go very deep into the draw. Is undefeated in Grand Slam finals however I can’t see him getting the better of Nadal should the two meet in the final.

Dark Horse: Alexander Zverev

Cannot ignore his rise into the top 10 and the form he showed in the Rome Masters. Clearly he has the ability and belief to match it with the world’s best on this surface. Is on the easier side of the draw in my opinion and with some luck he could go all the way.

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