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Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic have life in them yet but neither is in position to add to their haul of French Open titles. But that makes it fun…. Not the risk posed to s made-for-tv daredevils. Rafael Nadal is a decent clay court player, eh? Thiem and Sascha Zverev both put together nice clay court seasons, but neither appears a worthy rival to Rafa—at least not yet.
The last six majors have seen six different female champions, so no surprise there. Elina Svitolina seems to be peaking at the right time, drubbing Simona Halep in the Rome final, but Halep remains a deserving favorite at Roland Garros.
The Romanian, a finalist last year, is the world No. Rafael Nadal reigns supreme. Per usual, the Spaniard was dominant on the dirt in the run-up to Roland Garros, capturing trophies in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome to solidify fourth place on the Open Era titles list with Elina Svitolina is on fire right now. And then proceeded to fall , 6 , to the Romanian in the French Open quarterfinals. So what will happen at the French Open this year?
My gut tells me Svitolina will once again capitulate before the semifinals at Roland Garros in Injuries are still dominating tennis. And you can likely add Juan Martin del Potro to that list, after he suffered a groin strain in Rome. Others are likely to join that group by the time the draw is out.
What should players takeaway from these absences? Staying healthy is key, of course, but recovering from those ailments is nearly just as important. First and foremost, that year-old Rafa Nadal is still virtually unbeatable on the dirt. Anything short of a comfortable run to his 11th title in Paris would genuinely surprise me. That being said, Alexander Zverev is not far at all from breaking through in a major, and Roland Garros could well be the site of his first big breakthrough.
His game is ready. There are 20 women who could legitimately hoist the trophy. I miss the Big Four. That might not be a popular take in the tennis world, but there was something distinctly special about entering majors wondering which of the titans refresher: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray would reign supreme. This clay-court season, with Fed and Murray out and Novak a shell of himself, was the first time it seemed absolutely certain that those four-headed domination days are over.
With an early loss in Rome, Djokovic, remarkably, might not have been seeded. Which would have made answering this easy. Borna Coric is better than his No. Nicolas Jarry of Chile is rising in the ranks, as is Frances Tiafoe, for a gratuitous American reference. As for the women, a year after an unseeded player won the title….
Petra Martic is a veteran who plays her best at Majors. Maria Sakkari is the Greek freakette. Svetlana Kuznetsova is a former champ. Lucie Safarova, a former finalist is healthy again. How about Maria Sharapova? After losing in the first round in Stuttgart, she reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and the semifinals of Rome, where she beat Jelena Ostapenko in a thrilling three-set quarterfinal.
Kiki Bertens had a good run at the Madrid Open, where she reached the final before losing to Petra Kvitova. In the absence of his countryman Milos Raonic, Candian Denis Shapovalov could string together a few matches in the first week at the French Open.
How about another year-old? Stefanos Tsitsipas showed promise in Barcelona. How about a Romanian not named Simona Halep? Meet year-old Mihaela Buzarnescu. Going to go wayyyyy out on a limb here, because why not? Malek Jaziri can make a run into the second week given the right draw which, at the French, simply means avoiding Rafa. Players struggle and go through slumps, but this is almost unprecedented.
He ought to be encouraged by his play in Rome. But between his questionable levels of self-belief and fitness, realistically a run to, say, the quarterfinals, would be a win. With the right draw, Djokovic remains capable of making a deep run, especially after playing with greater confidence in Italy. But his fitness is a concern: Does he have the stamina to withstand a five-set marathon?
By returning to Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic is also returning to the scene of the crime. His win completed the career Grand Slam, vaulted him into another realm of greatness and left us asking ourselves: At this rate, who will ever stop him? Since then, other players have stepped up as Djokovic as spiraled downward. From injuries to internal struggles and everything in between, there are various reasons for the decline.
He is currently an active experiment in the testing of the theory: The Serb showed promise in Rome and a tough semifinal against Nadal could be the type of competition he needed before heading to Paris. Can the breeze on Court Philippe Chatrier kick up the dirt and resurface the magic of for Novak Djokovic?
He seems to be moving well, striking the backhand almost as clean as he used to, and the desire to return to the ranks of the elite is clearly there. The fitness is an issue, granted, which is ironic for a player who at his peak was as fit as there's ever been in sport.
But the men's field just isn't that strong this year, and Novak can certainly beat any player not named Rafa Nadal on his day. What do you think this is, beer pong? The WTA policymakers did her no favors, declining to seed her.
And, oh right, she is coming off a difficult pregnancy. Realistically this is a gauge event and a chance to get in some matches for Wimbledon, where she stands a much better chance.
Then again, she is Serena Williams. So if the No. But I think she should consider the French Open a success if she gets at least a couple matches under her belt without any health setbacks, positioning her to compete for titles on grass—especially at Wimbledon.
I may be ranked in the s, but my opponents across the net likely still view me as one of the best player in the world. I have 23 Grand Slam titles.