Hello tennis fans! So what have I missed whilst I’ve been busy in Jamestown? A fair amount; Alex Zverev took the Rome title from Novak Djokovic, which propels the German into the world’s top ten. He is the first German in the top ten since Tommy Haas I believe and I knew it was only a matter of time before he snagged a big title. Honestly I was surprised at how long it’s taken him to do so, which is a compliment in itself considering how young Zverev still is. As I write this, he’s already out of the slam thanks to Verdasco’s laser forehands but he’ll kick on. The runner-up in Rome has since backed up his encouraging week, by hiring Andre Agassi as his coach in an inspired move. I guess we’ll find out at this slam if Nole really is back.
So onto Roland Garros. Rafa and Novak are the clear favourites but they will both be nervous for differing reasons. All the pressure is on them and there are a lot of talented players in the draw who have been in decent form this clay season, ready to pounce. Sure, Rafa and Novak are the big favourites, but I think this tournament is more open than many are suggesting.
Players like Stan Wawrinka, who has done nothing this clay season but over 5 sets on this surface, will be very difficult to beat. Nick Kyrgios is due a big slam run and he impressively beat Kohlschreiber in his first match. Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are on a last-16 collision course, they both looked good in their first rounds. Then there’s Dominic Thiem and David Goffin, who are also due to meet in the last-16 (they must be tired of playing each other by now) and have favourable draws. The projected quarter finals are Djokovic vs Goffin/Thiem, Nadal vs Dimitrov/Raonic, Cilic/Kyrgios vs Wawrinka and Murray/Del Potro vs Nishikori.
I think a lot of eyes will be on Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro too. DelPo won his first match he’s played at Roland Garros since the 2012 quarter final against Federer, which was pleasing to see, and Andy needs to stop the bleeding somehow in Paris too, to get his season underway before Wimbledon.
Story of the day though has to go to David Ferrer, who won his first match 13-11 in the final set. What a hero. I just love this guy, he has the immense respect of the locker room for good reason, carving out a remarkable career for himself despite how he has limited on-court weapons. He may not be in the top ten anymore, but whenever he does hang up his gear, he’ll go down fighting as much as he has done for his entire career. He’ll face fellow veteran Feli Lopez next.
Don’t be surprised to see Pablo Cuevas in the second week, he’s had solid results all throughout the clay season and he has a decent draw. Frenchman wise, I really can’t see any threats… Monfils is always capable of turning it on in Paris but he’s so short of matches lately, the game with Gasquet. I think Tsonga and Pouille will be the best hopes for the French… but I’m not expecting much, even from Pouille who has had a good clay season.
Still I can’t ignore Rafa and Novak, and they both looked solid in their opening matches. Rafa in particular looked imperious. He has such a kind draw I can’t see him even being troubled before the quarter finals. Novak too, has a great draw (he was due one to be fair) and Pouille is the highest seed he could meet before the quarters.
I think that’s everything, roll on round 2. 🙂