The draw for the French is out and no surprises here as Federer landed in Djokovic's half along with Berdych and Raonic. Nadal, Ferrer, Wawrinka and Murray are all in the other half with play beginning on Sunday.
If things go to seeding we'll be getting a Djokodal final which the tournament organisers, the majority of fans and the money men behind the game definitely want as it's the hottest ticket in men's tennis right now.
As for Federer it's a pretty decent draw and he looks to have a very comfortable path to the 4th round where the tougher matches usually start. Roger has been in Paris for about a week already hitting on Chatrier with Edberg, Dimitrov, Wawrinka and probably several other players so he should be used to the conditions and balls which gives him a slight advantage over players who are forced to play Nice and Dusseldorf this week.
However he's considerably short of competitive matches after losing early in Rome meaning his last taste of tournament play and back to back matches was April 21st. Here's what he had to say himself in a pre tournament interview:
Playing well in Monaco was helpful in the sense that when I went to training I knew what I needed to work on.I feel like I'm in good shape. I feel very strong. After Rome, it was more just staying in the rhythm and relaxing again before Paris, Halle and Wimbledon. It's an important stretch now for me, and I don't want to come into this tournament uninspired or tired… For me it's really about being fresh mentally more than anything at this point.
To be honest I call bullshit on that one as if he'd gone deep at Rome we'd be reading a quote like “Making the finals in Rome has given me a great base ahead of the French and getting matches under my belt is hugely important.” So I don't think you can read too much into that on how he's feeling or how he will play here, just the usual PR talk. Physically he should be raring to go but matchplay wise it's an unknown.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- R1: Lukas Lacko
- R2: Qualifier
- R3: Dimitry Tursunov
- R4: Ernests Gulbis/ Mikhail Youzhny
- QF: Tomas Berdych
- SF: Novak Djokovic
- F: Rafael Nadal
My Thoughts on the Draw
First up Fed faces Lukas Lacko and this is a dreamy opponent first up. Lacko is yet to play on a clay court this year and his last result, at the Busan Challenger in South Korea, ended in a retirement. So a.) he's out of touch on the surface and b.) probably not 100% fit. Roger schooled him at the Australia Open in 2011 too so if you're like Fed and haven't played many matches lately this is the peRFect starting point 🙂
After that it's a Qualifier, either Elias Gastao from Portugal or Diego Sebastien Schwartzman from Argentina. Being honest I haven't heard of either of them before and they both have relatively poor records. I'll pick Schwartzman to come through though. Argentines have been known to cause Fed some problems on clay but I expect a routine win and then into a third round against most likely Tursunov. We know Tursunov can hit hard and has a decent serve but over 5 in a slam? Can't see it.
4th Round is an interesting one as it is seeded to be either Youzhny or Gublis. Gublis is playing in the Nice final tomorrow so he's in form but could be tired and potentially only a days rest. I also can't see Youzhny vs Gublis been a straight set encounter so looks to be advantage Roger in that one.
If Fed makes the 2nd week I'll be pretty pleased with his performance and if things go to seeding he'll be greeted with a match against Berdych. He's been a bit of a nemesis for Roger in recent years and on clay he's dangerous especially in overcast conditions as he hits a huge ball. I'd still back Fed to get it done but it could go 4 or 5.
Then if he gets through that it looks like he'd have to face Djokovic and Nadal in back to back matches. Only #Stanimal has beaten those guys in the same slam to win it so it's not an easy task 😛
So I'm expecting Fed to make the second week most definitely, then after that it's going to be interesting to see if he plays a 5 setter how he holds up int he next. I think the weather's going to play a part during the French too and if it's damp then big ball strikers tend to perform better. Overcast conditions usually work against Fed (Soderling 2010) so hopefully the sun can make an appearance whenever the GOAT is on court.
Elsewhere in the Draw
Nadal actually has the toughest draw out of the top 4 seeds with matches against Thiem, Almagro, Ferrer and Wawrinka / Murray all possibilities. Predicting this guys results is extremely difficult though. Part of me thinks he might lose early but the other says he could just crush it like usual.
Djokovic has it reasonably good with a few potential tough matches against Chardy, Cilic, Raonic or Nishikori on the cards. He's going to be confident after Rome though so I can see him dispatching opponents who are expected to trouble him quite easily.
Stan and Murray have a nice path to the Quarters too, they'll have to most likely face some clay court specialists in the shape of Fognini and Verdasco respectively. Murray picked up form in Rome but fell short against Nadal again so I'm interested to see if he can make the the Quarters or Semi's. Stan is an enigma at the minute, he bagels huge servers one minute then crashes out to clowns the next. Very hard to say how he will play.
Interesting First Round Matches
- Grigor Dimitrov vs. Ivo Karlovic
- Stan Wawrinka vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
- Richard Gasquet vs. Bernard Tomic
- Kei Nishikori vs. Martin Klizan
- Marin Cilic vs. Pablo Andujar
- Robin Haase vs. Nikolay Davydenko
- Federer to make the Quarter Finals
- Djokovic to win his 1st French Open
- Nadal to lose before the final
- Bautista-Agut to take out Berdych
- Edouard Roger-Vasselin to be the best performing Frenchman
- No Americans to make the 4th Round or better
Finally I thought I'd share this video of Fed hitting with Dimitrov, they're playing first to 11, no serves. It's a decent drill and Fed looks pretty sharp.
Unfortunately video has been removed
Let me know what you guys think of the draw. Any darkhorse predictions? How will Fed do?