For this season only the last grand slam tournament is the French Open. For many of the players they are moving straight from hard courts to clay. That isn’t an easy transition.
Let’s take a look at who has a chance of performing well in the tournament and who are the outsiders who might have been helped out by a favourable draw.
(Names and predicted stage of the tournament in bold.)
Nadal. Champion. The King of Clay had a surprisingly poor performance against Schwartzman in Rome. His serve stats would have looked bad in a WTA match. He has a career record of 93 wins from 96 matches at the French Open. He has won the title for the last 3 seasons. If he is fit he gets to the final and should take the title.
Djokovic. Final. Beat Schwartzman in last week’s Rome final. He lost in the semis last year to Thiem. He hasn’t been in the final since 2016 when he beat Murray in the final. he has had a good season as far as results go but has been apologising every 5 minutes for his actions and statements.
Tsitsipas. Semi final. His melt down loss to Coric at the US Open could have affected his confidence badly. However he has bounced back strongly and has played great tennis in Hamburg this week. He has quite a tough draw with Cuevas, Krajinovic and Shapovalov as his probably opponents.
Thiem. Semi final. He won his 1st slam title at the US Open. His only clay tournament in 2020 was his own exhibition event during lockdown. He has reached the final at the French Open in the last 2 season. He has a pretty tough draw. Cilic, Ruud, Wawrinka and Schwartzman can all give him problems if his level drops.
Berrettini. Quarter final. Has a decent draw. Probably meets Bautista Agut in the 4th round. He has been in decent form since the tour resumed. Lost to Ruud in the quarter finals in Rome. Also lost to Ruud in the 2nd round last year and lost to Thiem in the 3rd round in 2018.
Rublev. Quarter final. I feel this is a really good draw for him. He will be favourite in every round until his probable quarter final with Tsitsipas. He is still in the semi finals in Hamburg as I write this.
Schwartzman. Quarter final. His form has been shaky to say the least since the tour resumed but reached the final in Rome where he beat Nadal and was a double break up on Djokovic in the final. If he maintains that form he can have a good tournament but will have to get past Coric and probably Monfils if he is going to reach the quarter final.
Zverev. Quarter final. He doesn’t have an easy draw but really should be fairly comfortable in the first couple of rounds. Delbonis can give him a scare in the 3rd round and Sinner will test him in the 4th round. He would meet Nadal in the quarter final.
Garin. 4th round. Actually DOESN’T have an easy draw! He meets Kohlschreiber in the 1st round, Humbert in the 2nd round and Khachanov in the 3rd. If he is at the top of his game he has a chance in every round. Could be worth a few quid in the Overall Winner market.
Shapovalov 4th round. He reached the quarter finals at the US Open and the semis in Rome. He doesn’t have much experience at the French Open and only once made the 2nd round. In his current form he should beat Carballes Baena and beat his probable 3rd round opponent, Dimitrov, in Rome.
Isner. 4th round. He should get through the 1st 2 rounds and will probably face Fognini in the 3rd round. Fognini is back after wrist surgery and his performances have been erratic.
Sinner. 4th round. He has played some decent tennis recently. He beat Kohlschreiber in Kitzbuhel and Tsitsipas in Rome. Meets Goffin in the 1st round and starts that one as slight underdog. IF he can get past Goffin he will be rewarded with what should be comfortable matches in the next 2 rounds. He would meet Zverev in the 4th round.
Monfils. 4th round. He started the season strongly but has looked rusty since the tour resumed. He has a very consistent record at the French Open and reached the 4th round last year. He has a decent draw if he can lift his level from what we have seen from him in his last 2 matches. If he gets to the 4th round he will probably meet Schwartzman.
Wawrinka. 4th round. IF he gets to the 4th round he will have fully deserves it! He should beat Murray. Koepfer has been in strong form recently and if Aliassime finds some inspiration he can take him out. I can’t see him beating Thiem if he gets as far as the 4th round.
(Names and predicted stage of the tournament in bold. )
Halep. Champion. She won the title in Rome 2 weeks ago. She reached the French Open final in 2017, won the title in 2018 and reached the quarter finals last year. On her day she can beat anyone on clay.
Kvitova. Final. She has a decent draw. Hercog could be her first test in the 3rd round and she could meet Keys and Pliskova in the quarter and semi finals. They won’t be easy matches but she is capable of winning both. Possibly meets Muguruza in the semis.
Serena Williams. Semi final. She wasn’t in her best form going into the US Open but still reached the semi final. She has a very strong clay record. The last time she won the French Open was in 2015. She made the final in 2016. She made the 3rd round last season. She meets Pironkova in the 2nd round. Pironkova surprised the tennis world when she reached the quarter finals of the US Open. Her biggest test will probably be Azarenka in the 4th round. I think Serena will get a little revenge for the US Open semi final. She would probably meet Halep in the semis.
Muguruza. Semi finals. She reached the semi finals in Rome. I had expected her to do well at the US Open and she bombed out in the 2nd round to Pironkova. She won the French Open title in 2016. She reached the semi finals in 2018 and the 4th round last year. Jennifer Brady probably gives her a few problems in the 3rd round but Brady isn’t at her best on clay. Sabalenka in the 4th round and Rybakina in the quarter finals will be good tests for her. She would meet Kvitova in the semi final.
Sakkari. Quarter final. She reached the 4th round at the US Open. She had a good season on clay in 2019 and reached the semi finals in Rome. This year she has played just 1 match on clay. She made the 2nd round of the French Open. She reached the 3rd round in 2018. If she is going to get to the quarter final she would probably have to beat Giorgi and Kuznetsova. Then it would be Halep in the quarter final.
Mertens. Quarter final. She has been superb since the tour resumed. Reached a final on clay in Palermo, semis on hard in the Cincinnati tournament and quarter finals at the US Open. In Rome on clay she made the quarter finals. She reached the 3rd round at the French Open last year. Her best finish was a 4th round in 2018. Kontaveit will be a really tough test in the 3rd round and she would then meet Svitolina in the 4th round. After that it’s Serena!.
Rybakina. Quarter final. She has reached the final in Strasbourg this week. She reached the 3rd round in Rome. She has a very strong clay record winning 37 of her 50 matches. Last season she made it through the qualifying rounds and lost to Siniakova in the main draw. She should be comfortable until the 3rd round. I think she will beat Muchova and then meet Kenin in the 4th round. if playing well Rybakina can beat Kenin on clay.
Pliskova. Quarter final. She reached the final in Rome 2 weeks ago. She retired from the final. Her best result at the French Open was a semi final in 2017. She has reached the 3rd round in the last 2 seasons. Her first test is likely to be Stephens in the 3rd round. I think she will get through that match and then beat Martic in the 4th round. I think Kvitova would be too strong for her in the quarter final.
Vondrousova. 4th round. She reached the semis in Rome. She reached the final of the French Open last season. She should be comfortable in the 1st and 2nd rounds. The 3rd round will see her play either Bouchard or Yastremska. I think she will get through that round but will then face Halep.
Svitolina. 4th round. She is in the Strasbourg final. She has a decent clay record. She has been in the French Open quarter finals twice and reached the 3rd round in the last 2 seasons. She should be comfortable until the 3rd round. There she will probably meet Blinkova who is OK on clay but Svitolina should take that. She would meet Mertens in the 4th round.
Azarenka. 4th round. She had 4 strong weeks in a row. Won the title in the Cincinnati tournament and made the final of the US Open. She reached the quarter finals in Rome. Her best results at the French Open were a good few years ago. She has won 1 match in the last 3 seasons. Venus Williams and Putintseva could both give her some problems but if she maintains her recent form she will get through both matches. I think Serena will beat her in the 4th round.
Martic. 4th round. She reached the semi finals in Palermo on clay and made the 4th round at the US Open. She has had a problem with a leg injury. She has had a couple of weeks to deal with that. She reached the 4th round of the French open in 2017 and the quarter finals last season. If she is fit i don’t see her having problems in the first 2 rounds. Siegemund can put her under a lot of pressure but, again if fit, she should get through it. I’d expect Pliskova to beat her in the 4th round.
Sabalenka. 4th round. She reached the semis in Strasbourg this week. She has won just 1 match in the French Open in 3 visits. Clay isn’t her strongest surface. She doesn’t have a terrible draw. Kasatkina and Jabeur will be tough matches for her but if she plays as she has this week she can beat both of them. I think Muguruza will be too strong in the 4th round.
Kenin. 4th round. Her form has been up and down since August. Lost to Cornet in Cincinnati. Reached the 4th round of the US Open. The didn’t win a single game in Rome against Azarenka. She reached the 4th round of the French open last year. Vekic will give her a few problems in the 3rd round but I’d expect Rybakina to beat her in the 4th round.
Keys. 4th round. She reached the 3rd round at the US Open. She has a strong clay record and has won 35 of her last 50 on this surface. She reached the quarter finals of the French Open last year and the semi finals in 2018. She will probably meet Cornet in the 2nd round and Kerber in the 3rd round. That could be a close one but I’d give keys the edge. Keys would then meet Kvitova in the 4th round.