Sunday, 24 May 2009

Roland Garros

WTA Tennis is probably at its most unsteady faze in the past few decades, with nobody managing to demand any attention on a consistent note and tournament winners seemingly picked out of a hat! That can be said when Alexandra Dulgheru ranked 201 in the world managed to win in Warsaw. When hearing something like this you must imagine it to be a challenger event, but no, the Warsaw Open is a $600,000 "premier" event which boasts Justine Henin as its 2007 victor.
The event headlined players like Jie Zheng, Sara Errani, Aleksandra Wozniak of course we can't miss off Anne Keothavong! It also featured Alone Bondarenko who has sweet memories here and the return of Maria Sharapova. Though this line up is by no means the best clay court field amassed it should have been enough to bar a no namer from the final let alone the trophy. Alone looked the stronger player throughout the tournament (besides the final I guess) breaking Maria's fairytale comeback and Anne Koethavong's hopes of doing Britain proud whilst Dulgheru passed through a somewhat revived Daniela Hantuchova to make the finals.
It's nice to see unexpected winners from time to time but when this is happening basically every week it makes me worried that women's tennis is heading for extinction.
It seems that since Henin retired everything has exploded or imploded on the WTA tour with fantastic revivals, dreadful demises, young teens falling by the wayside after so much speculation and all of the other whatnots. I just hope a well rounded player manages to bring the tour a much needed lease of life (though I believe Nicole Vaidisova is a great player to reign at No.1 it ain't happening any time soon!).
On a side note Dulgheru's win was so unexpected that even photographs of her winning (on the WTA site) look poor and unprofessional, as if everyone was focusing on Alone and forgot about her until she lifted the trophy!

So the Roland Garros draws are out, I'm slightly late on this but my computer had been breaking up on me for the past week so here goes.
Anyway before I go into the draws I just wanted to emphasize on a small article I read just now. Supposedly Nadal lost to Brian Dabul in a one set exhibition match at Roland Garros! Dabul is currently ranked 109. Well I'm not saying Nadal is now going to lose in the first round but it does shock me that the king of clay lost to someone like Dabul, it must be a kick in the stomach for him especially since he lost to Federer recently on clay, it does spark questions on Nadals form.

Rafael Nadal's eighth of the draw should count themselves awfully unlucky to be matched with nearly 0% odds of making it to the quarterfinals. Nadal will face Marcos Daniel in the first round, though Daniel favours clay above any surface (winning 9 out of 10 of his challengers titles on clay) he poses a miniscule threat to the clay king. His second round opponent could be either Igor Kunitsyn or Teimuraz Gabashvili, both of which aren't great on clay courts, but I favour Teimuraz's chances slightly more than Igor's. Anyway it doesn't really matter because they should be obliterated by Nadal. I believe his third round opponent will be Lleyton Hewitt as I think Ivo Karlovic's form isn't on the ball and Lleyton seems to be doing well lately. But still this should be an easy match for Nadal.
David Ferrer, who is on the other side of Nadal's eighth, should have an easy job in making the 4th round along with Nadal, even though he hasn't been having a great clay court season (bar his finals appearance in Barcelona).
Davydenko is a strong clay court player but that seems to crumble when he's playing anybody who has featured in the Top 10 of the rankings ever! Therefore Stefan Koubek shouldn't be a problem nor would Paul Capdeville (who I believe will be his second round opponent). But when it comes to Stanislas Wawrinka (who made a brief appearnace in the Top 10), I'm not sure. He's also had a sturdy clay court season which makes it very difficult to predict.
Nicolas Massu the 31st seed should be able to edge out Agustin Calleri and then make it easily past Sam Querrey. But Fernando Verdasco should be the eventual victor of this mini squabble.
The eventual quaterfinal draw here I believe will be non other than Rafael Nadal Vs. Fernando Verdasco with Verdasco losing to Nadal yet again.

Murray leads the next eighth and being one of the most in form players. However that cannot be said for clay, he's still an ok player on clay but he will not pose a threat to the title. It will be a workout for him but he is in good form so maybe he could pull off a decent finish. What's also aiding him is that his eighth of the draw isn't very tough, I believe his opponents will be Potito Starace, Albert Montanes and Radek Stepanek - all of which are easily beatable. If Cilic was better on clay he could be a threat but sadly that's not the case.
Fernando Gonzalez has been understated this year and I believe he's possibly Murray's biggest threat for a semifinal spot. But whoever is in this quarter should count themselves lucky as they've got the easiest draw, being the one with the most potential to spark an underdog. I hope Marat Safin does well, I believe he'll get to the third round before being dispatched of by Gonzalez.
Mikhail Youzhny also has quite a simple draw so maybe he could get far he's lucky that its Gilles Simon in his draw rather than anyone else. Therefore I'm going to make a risk by predicting Youzhny as the 4th round opponent to Gonzalez.

Juan is the first player in the bottom half, he'll be a tough opponent for any player. Lucasz Kubot who made a few headlines by reaching the finals in Belgrade could be a challenge if he's on form but I don't believe Del Potro would lose to him. Igor Andreev (the next seed) worries me a bit, not in terms of beating Del Potro but I just don't know whether he'll make it to Round 3. He's a good clay court player but he's had some bad results lately.
Juan Monaco, who is also in Del Potro's section and one of my favourite players, has been handed a great draw; hopefully he'll capitalize on it. Tsonga could make beat him but his recent results don't put him favourably.
Djokovic will most likely be on the other side of the court to those group of players. Before that Tommy Robredo is probably his toughest opponent but I believe Djokovic is in the right form to make easy pickings of him.
Bernard Tomic will be in this draw but sadly I don't think he's got the experience to make it through Round 1 on clay.
Ivan Ljubicic Vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero will be an interesting match, it's quite difficult to decide who'll win but my instinct is leaning on Ljubicic.
However back to Djokovic he does have Nicolas Lapentti as a first round match, quite a tough first round opponent if I must say, definitely could cause some difficulty.

Andy Roddick is the first seed in the next section. Roddick's a great player but we all know what his game's like on clay. But he doesn't have a touch early draw so maybe this year Roddick could make his best showing at Roland Garros. He's also got Monfils in his draw who he beat recently on clay and is having a bad few weeks so maybe just maybe Roddick could break into the quaterfinals! (to lose to Federer again!!!!!)
Blake has been playing well on clay recently but Tommy Haas will be a difficult challenge.
Oh on a side note, Robby Ginepri Vs. Pablo Andujar will probably be the prettiest First Round match you'll see but sadly neither of them are doing well on clay this year.
But what annoys me is that Roger Federer yet again has an easy draw, it seems that it's been ages since his first 3 round draws have been difficult, as if someone is fixing it to make it easier for him!

I won't be analyzing on the women's draw because I simply don't have the information or the patience to do what I did for the men's draw with the women's. I'll probably do something similar at the start of round 2. Anyway I've made up my Round 2 hopefuls (for the first time) so lets see how many I'll get right!

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