The menacing clay courts of Roland-Garros awaits the world’s best tennis players as the French Open is slated to begin this week. All eyes will be on this Grand Slam Tournament as the cream of the crop comes out to do battle.
We don’t blame you if you think you know what is going to happen. After all, on the men’s side, the French Open has grown to be somewhat predictable. Still, things might not be as they seem for the 2013 installment. Thus, here are a few things to watch for during this year’s French Open.
Will Rafa’s dominance continue?
Seven of the last eight French Opens have belonged to Rafael Nadal, hence, the predictability in this Grand Slam tournament. There is a small glimmer of hope for fans that wish to experience a little variety this year, but you might not want to get your hopes up.
Nadal was hampered by injury throughout the 2012 season. Some players do not ever fully bounce back from these nagging injuries, and it certainly was enough to keep Nadal off the court for a prolonged period of time. He even missed this year’s Australian Open. One might argue that if there were any year Nadal was vulnerable to an upset, it would be this year.
We hate to break it to you, but since returning to the court, Nadal has won five of just eight tournaments that he participated in, indicating that he is indeed back to full strength and ready to take his rightful throne as French Open champion.
Can anyone outside of “the big four” rise up?
When it comes to Grand Slam tournaments, there just does not seem to be a lot of parity on the men’s side. You have Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray (he won’t be participating in the French Open this year) and Novak Djokovic. No one has really had much luck getting anything accomplished on the big stage like these four have.
Could this year be the one where someone else actually gives the big (three) a run for its money? There are certainly some capable players in the field. Guys like No. 5-ranked David Ferrer or clay aficionado John Isner have the tools, but need to put it together. Considering the Grand Slam results as of late, that is certainly easier said than done.
Serena or Maria?
Serene Williams comes to Roland-Garros as the top-rated female tennis player in the world. She is off to another hot start this season, which might suggest that she is a shoo-in for a French Open title.
Actually, she is anything but, especially considering that since her only French Open championship in 2002, she has been brutal on these clay courts. You might expect her to continue to find her footing and, hopefully for her, finally get the monkey off her back.
Meanwhile, No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova has built a reputation as of late for her strong play on clay. She walked away from last year’s French Open as the champion, too. However, the women’s side has many more wild cards, illustrated by the fact that there have been six different champions in the last six years.