Friday, 20 May 2011

Roland Garros 2011: Draws

The draws are out so the usual questions, who's hard done by and who should be jumping for joy? 

Rafael Nadal has the pleasure of being No.1 seed but will have to face John Isner first. John Isner? Has he already dropped from the Top 32 in the world? A quick check on ATP will show you that Isner is now ranked 39th! What happened to him? Anyway I feel more sorry for Isner to be playing Nadal in round 1 than Nadal for playing a former Top 20 player.

Next up for Nadal is probably Pablo Andujar. Despite having a rather awful two months Andujar does have a clay title under his belt this year and unlike his opponent, Santiago Giraldo, he has made Round 2 of Roland Garros before and consistently.

Danger lurks in the 3rd Round where Nikolay Davydenko awaits. Davydenko has had a very topsy turvy year so it's a question mark whether he'd even make the 3rd Round but if he does he'll be a relatively difficult opponent for so early in the draw. However recent losses to Victor Troicki, Marcel Granollers and Robin Haase on clay don't bode well for this former Roland Garros semifinalist. However Davydenko shouldn't have anything to worry about because those around his draw look rather weak, if there were anything to worry about but I'd be interested to see what the qualifier Antonio Veic (above) could do.

No wonder they are saying Nadal has got it tough because he potentially has Fernando Verdasco and the American who could play on clay, Sam Querrey, to look forward to in Round 4. However yet again we are talking about potential here, both players haven't been great this season whilst has Querrey ever been great at Roland Garros? He's never made it past the first round! Whilst these names that Nadal could face early on look really tough none of them have been in form this year so it's more likely we'll see Nadal pass through without dropping a set than be pushed to a five set marathon.

The QFs however could provide Nadal with some real competition. Most of the times when we talk about Nadal and Roland Garros we're asking ourselves who can take a set off of him but what could be better than somebody that has actually beaten Nadal at Roland Garros, the only one as well - that is none other than Robin Soderling. Soderling had a great start to the year which has slowed down slightly since the turn to clay but he is still a force on the tour. But Soderling needs to get on his A game, he hasn't been able to beat Djokovic, Federer or Del Potro on clay this year so it's looking pretty grim for his chances of beating Nadal at Roland Garros.

If we are still asking ourselves whether an American could push Nadal on clay then surely the name to look out for is Mardy Fish, yes he lost to Isner this year on clay but being in the Top 10 and the best American player on tour must have boosted his confidence to do well, surely... However I'd be shocked if anybody would actually rate his chances highly of even making the QFs.

Maybe the only thing interesting about section 2 is the battle of the hotties Jeremy Chardy Vs Grigor Dimitrov, I bet a lot of fan girls will be watching that match.

Andy Murray is in section 3. I think Murray should be thanking the people who pulled his draw because out of the Top 4 I'd say he has the easiest job. He does have some potential dangers in his draw. Milos Raonic started off the year as one of the next big things so he could be a threat though he hasn't really done as well on clay and he's still pretty raw against the best players. More of a danger might be Dolgopolov who amazed everyone by making the QFs at the Australian Open. He also managed to make the 3rd Round in his first attempt here but if Murray nearly beat Djokovic on clay last week whilst Nadal was no where close then that must be saying something about Murray's potential here and Dolgopolov was facing a 4 match losing streak coming into Nice.

The larger danger probably lurks in section 4 for Andy Murray. Nicolas Almagro has been a beast this year and made the QFs at Roland Garros both last year and in 2008 so if Andy Murray is feeling any bit tentative I'm sure Almagro will take that opportunity and pounce on it seeing as he also did that to Murray in 2008. Whilst I wouldn't classify Melzer as a threat he did beat Federer on clay recently and he did make the SFs here last year.

Ferrer leads section 5 with Gael Monfils also here. Both are neck and neck I'd say for making the QFs but neither of the two are consistently up there at the top at Roland Garros. I'd be shocked if anyone besides them two made it to the QF spot in section 5 but it's not unlikely.

Section 6 is headed by the Swiss pair Federer and Wawrinka. People are saying Federer has a tough draw but I wouldn't say it's that tough. The only potential threat in the early rounds for Federer is Tipsarevic but he hasn't been that great either. Stanislas Wawrinka had a great hard court season but his clay season has been pretty awful. 

Finally we have Djokovic, who I'd say has the most dangerous draw because of Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berdych. Marin Cilic and Mikhail Youzhny are also dangers but they haven't been on form this year. I'm actually slightly worried for Djokovic yes Del Potro might be coming back from an injury but meeting as early as the third round could spell disaster for Djokovic as Del Potro has arguably been one of the best players on clay this year. If he manages to pass Del Potro in a reasonably easy fashion then Djokovic should be safe up to the semis because I don't see Berdych being able to beat Djokovic where he is now and tbh I'm not even convinced Berdych will make the QFs.

The obvious favourites for the title this year are Nadal and Djokovic, I honestly don't see anybody else winning it. The biggest threats for Djokovic making the finals are definitely Federer and Del Potro whilst Nadal should have a safer journey to the finals with only Murray and Soderling have an outside possibility of making a shock.

Who will win in the women's draw? Must be Wozniacki, Clijsters or outside bets Sharapova and Azarenka. I hope it's not Clijsters though because it would totally undermine the tour if Clijsters can just come back to the tour and immediately win a Grand Slam. I think Wozniacki should be able to make the SFs. I'd say the only threats are Kuznetsova, Bartoli and Stosur and that's stretching it because I don't think either of those three are performing well. I'd say Stosur would be her biggest threat because besides the two losses to Julia Goerges Wozniacki has had a very good year.

The 3rd and 4th section are filled with those former greats. Zvonareva, Petrova, Jankovic and Schiavone would have all made a tough draw in previous seasons but this season I honestly don't think any of them would beat Wozniacki or even Stosur that's why I think this section of the draw is pretty weak.

Section 5 and 6 is filled with dark horses such as Na Li, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka. I think I've seen sites where Azarenka is listed as favourite and Kvitova as 4th favourites to win Roland Garros this year. Na Li on the other hand is a bit of a hit or miss. At this point you may be asking me why I've only named the top players, well to be honest I don't think anybody will tackle the top players that's why I've only put them in contention.

Finally we have Sharapova and Clijsters draw, the draw of the former greats shall we say. Sharapova had an amazing week last week, is she ready to take Roland Garros? It's possible because the draw is so wide open. To be honest I don't want to do any more guessing, I'd rather just sit and watch the action because finally for the first time I'm not busy during Roland Garros!

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