Well draw day, or D-day as I prefer to call it has been and gone and it's best described as predictable. Nadal got a total cakewalk draw and yet again Roger was drawn in Djokovic's half of the draw.
Roger opens up his French Open campaign on Monday against Tobias Kamke, the German is ranked 77 and it should be a routine win for Roger. Next up he'll likely face one of his old adversary's, David Nalbandian, I'd like to think Roger will stroll through this match in straight sets but with Nalbandian you never know. He's pretty tricky and still has the ability to cause an upset on the day. Having said that though if Roger can't get past Nalbandian with ease it doesn't look good for the rest of the tournament.
The third round looks likely to be a match against Andy Roddick, although I'm not overly confident Roddick will get there on clay. Should he make the third round however I believe it will a very easy for Roger. Roddick might have pulled off the win in Miami but on clay there's no way his game stacks up to produce a win, I'd go so far as saying they may as well replace him with me. The 4th round is then anticipated to be against Feliciano Lopez or Radek Stepanek again neither of those should be tricky.
The quarter final is where it really gets interesting with Roger seeded to meet either Thomas Berdych or Juan Martin Del Potro. Believe me, either of those two will be a very tough match. Berdych hits a heavy ball and is very dangerous on clay. In fact I've read many an article where pundits are tipping him to make the final. The one blessing in disguise is that both Berdych and Del Potro are rather unfortunately seeded to meet each other in the 4th round. That match is probably the pick of the first week and should be a pretty brutal encounter, hopefully tiring both players out so Roger can mop up in the Quarters. It's tough to say who Roger would rather face, he's beaten Del Potro 4 times and whilst he beat Berdych in Madrid it was a struggle so maybe Del Po would be the choice opponent.
Then if all goes to plan it's another Djokovic vs. Federer Semi final with it extremely likely that Nadal will be waiting in the final. ZzzzzZZZ. Who would have thought it?
As far as the rest of the top 3 go, Nadal faces Simone Bolleli in round 1, I predict we will see at least one bagel. He then will face either Denis Istomin or Igor Kunitsyn – again these are total buffet matches. Third round looks set to be big against serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, he can be tricky but against Nadal on clay he has zero chance. The 4th round maybe a tougher match should he face Milos Raonic, but he first has to get past Juan Monaco. Monaco is the kind of player that will pull off an emphatic win against Raonic and then completely disappear on court against Nadal losing in straight sets. Nadal could then face Janko Tipsarevic in the Quarters, it will be routine. And then the semi final against Murray or Ferrer. I fancy Ferrer to make it, cause Nadal trouble for 15 mins and then wilt away.
As for Djokovic he starts against Starace and will then in all likelihood face Lleyton Hewitt in the 2nd round. No doubt some fans think Hewitt will be tricky because he's so intense but trust me, it won't, expect straight sets and nothing less. Djokovic could then face the guy who beat him the 2010 French Open, Jurgen Melzer. I don't see that happening again as Melzer isn't in form, he has talent but no consistency and no plan B. Novak is then set to face the man to inflict Nadal his only defeat on clay this season, Fernando Verdasco. I used to like watching Verdasco because of his awesome forehand but there's only so many times you can see a guy throw matches away, I see him posing little to no threat to Djokovic, if this matchup happens just expect a lot of double faults from the Spaniard. If seeding goes to plan Djokovic will face Tsonga in the Quarters, although the jury is out on Tsonga for me as to whether he'll make it that far because so far this season as he's failed to perform
As for other news, I was glad to see that Tommy Haas made it through Qualifiers, I've always like Haas because he plays a stylish game and comes across as pretty genuine. I'll also never forget the 2009 4th round he played against Roger at Roland Garros, probably up there in my all time favourite matches. He's dangerous still and maybe could pull off a couple of wins.
Who do I think will win the French?
Even though this is primarily a Federer blog it's important that I don't become blind to the obvious, and in Paris the obvious is clearly Rafael Nadal. It's really tough to see Nadal not winning a record 7th French Open, something out of the ordinary will have to happen, the clay will have to play crazy fast or someone in the draw (including Roger himself should they meet) will have to play the match of their lives to cause the upset.
I also don't want to put a negative spin on things but I don't really have a great feeling about this years French, I'm usually eternally optimistic for Roger but something about this tournament is telling me otherwise and that Wimbledon is far more important this year. Whether that amounts to anything who knows, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
I have a few danger players that I think could do ok next week, one of them being Thomaz Bellucci and the other being Phillip Kohlschreiber. I also think the players that are half expected to do well like Tomic and Dolgopolov will flop.
Roger's Pre Tournament Press Conference
I decided to include the transcript of Roger's presser taken yesterday as I thought it was a pretty good one:
Federer French Open Interview
RF: Well, I've really loved this tournament for the last years now. I struggled early on a bit because I had up and down results. It was a tough tournament for me from the start, whereas Wimbledon and New York in particular all felt very comfortable from the start.
So this is, though, the place where I got my first wildcard into a Grand Slam back in '99. I lost to Pat Rafter on Suzanne Lenglen, so I have great memories from back in the day, too.
Obviously 2009 was very, very special winning here. Just the emotions were, you know, ridiculous, and I got amazing crowd support. Same again basically last year, which was so nice to see.
Winning Paris‑Bercy, even though it's not that much to do with Roland Garros, it was also very, very special for those that were there. It was a similar atmosphere over there than what I had at Roland Garros, so I figure I have, you know, lived some special moments here in this town and in this place.
I'm looking forward to it again this year. It would mean a lot to me, because I have had some of those great emotions I was just telling you about. To relive those would be amazing winning the title here, no doubt.
Q. They say best‑of‑five matches are to the advantage of very good players because it gives them more time.
RF: I agree.
Q. How do you feel physically before the start of this tournament, and what were your feelings on the center court?
RF: Yeah, I mean, court is amazing here. It's always in great shape. Groundsmen do a good job and we benefit from that. Of course there are some bad bounces. That's clay court, and that's what we like about it. It slides perfectly, so it's a nice court to play on.
I have played on Chatrier and Lenglen the last few days. Everything feels normal. Obviously it's a change of ball again from previous years and from the previous weeks, which makes it just a bit more complicated.
We have tried to solve the issue and have the same ball for the entire clay court season, but the French Open decided to change the balls again once we changed the balls in Rome and Madrid.
So that was tricky, but physically I'm fine. I feel really good. Much less problems than I had through Madrid and Rome. I took three days off after the Djokovic match from Rome and just came here and relaxed and started practicing Wednesday.
So I feel right there where I want to be a few days before the event.
Q. You've come close to winning four consecutive Grand Slam titles, an accomplishment that Djokovic now has a chance to do if he can win here. How significant in the history of tennis and maybe all sports would an accomplishment like that be? What do you consider the toughest part to try and do that?
RF: I mean, it's an amazing achievement in itself to win three in a row. Four in a row is just another amazing step. I think the toughest part is the very end, the back end of it I think. I've been there twice I think. I was twice in the finals, twice a couple sets away.
Okay, I mean, I was playing Rafa here, which doesn't make it a whole lot easier. But, you know, it's easier to maybe start with the French in this era and then finishing it on the hard court.
But it's amazing for tennis right now that we have Novak in this situation again where we had Rafa at the Australian Open last year, I think it was, and before that I had the chance a few times.
So I think it's great for the sport. It will be interesting to follow Novak going for that. But the hard part is, you know, I mean, same for everyone. Every point you play, every game you play, the pressure you face, and just answering the questions time and time again, you know.
It's fun because you're talking about the highest of accomplishments. But at the end of the day, you just like to play the matches and not talk about it that much.
Q. At one point last year you sounded like you were thinking of cutting back on your schedule, but you've actually increased it this year. When and why did you decide to do that?
RF: Well, I've always wanted to play more of the sort of indoor matches through ‑‑ in Europe in February. I've tried to play Rotterdam for numerous years now. This year was the time to do it. I felt like I could, you know, put it in my schedule.
Obviously I haven't played Rotterdam that often in the past because I sort of had a residence in Dubai eventually, so that made sense for me traveling‑wise, family, all that stuff together.
So this year I said, Look, I'd like to play some more, because in the past it's been tricky going through Indian Wells and Miami. If you don't play from Australia to Indian Wells and you don't play well at Indian Wells and Miami, you go through three months you don't play tennis.
You're being judged on that, which is not fair, first of all. Secondly, it's not good for me coming into the clay court season. Then thirdly, I might pay the price at the French and Wimbledon all the way through to the US Open potentially.
So I just said I want to have enough matches, and I can always cut back. I left my schedule completely open.
I've also started up a new tennis newsletter called Point Blank Tennis, it's a newsletter that pulls together content from various tennis blogs into one weekly newsletter. Hopefully allowing tennis fans to find the best articles easily without trawling through RSS feeds and spotting links on twitter.
I also thought it'd make a great alternative to the Bleacher Report and create more exposure for all the great independent tennis bloggers (I don't include mainstream articles). I sent out the first issue this week and it went down really well with everyone that has subscribed so far so I'd very much appreciate it if you could sign up by going to www.pointblanktennis.com
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