The Night Before the Day Before

May 21, 2010

Tomorrow, my university exams begin. Tomorrow, the players will be waking up with a sensation in the pit of their stomach that tells them that a Grand Slam is starting soon. Of course I would rather be in a position to play some fabulous tennis under the hot French sun instead of sitting an exam, but we all have our lot in life. And over the next two weeks whilst I will be slogging through timed essays, the top tennis players in the world will be taking part in second Grand Slam of the year at Rolland Garros.

The draw came out today, and so now the players know their fate as to how the tournament may play out for them. Two casualties have already altered everyone’s view of what the final may be; Juan Martin del Potro will be out for what looks like all of the Grand Slams this year, with his wrist still recovering from surgery. And the Henin/Clijsters final we have all been waiting will have to be postponed, with Kim Clijsters out with an injury sustained in the Davis Cup.

So what should be affecting your favourites for this year’s French Open?

Some are questioning Roger Federer’s ability to take his next in a long string of Grand Slam titles with other strong players nipping at his heels, and a difficult half of the draw. After all, Rafael Nadal is back on blistering form, having taken a host of titles after his 11 month dry spell. With Nadal’s favourite surface being the clay, and his body appears to be holding itself together. But will it stand up to the gruelling tests of a Grand Slam? His knees were what drove him away from the game last year, and every Nadal-backer and Rafa-fan have their fingers crossed that those knees will withstand the clay.

Novak Djokovic suffered from allergy problems in his last tournament, and with the European summer heating up he will have to watch out for the pollen levels at Rolland Garros. Other than that, his performance is up and down. One minute on fire, the next minute struggling to get past round two or three. Who knows what the clay will do to him in France.

Andy Murray has tough competition in the first round, coming up against Richard Gasquet. With a string of stinging defeats since his almost-title at the Australian Open, the question hanging over the Scot is whether he can pick up his confidence and mentality after a bad few months.

And, as in every grand slam, there are a few not-so-common names to look out for. Ernest Gulbis has taken down Roger Federer before in Rome this year, and wrangled a set off Nadal when he reached the semi-finals, both accomplishments no mean feat. Marin Cilic has been impressive over the last few months, helping Croatia win 5-0 over Ecuador, defending his Zagreb title and fell only until the quarter finals in Dubai, and no-one can forget his storm into the semi-finals at the Australian Open, beating Delpo and Wawrinka along the way. David Ferrer, after a couple of shaky patches, appears to be on a good streak, beating Marcos Baghdatis, Marin Cilic and Andy Murray, before succumbing to Roger Federer. He is seeded ninth at Rolland Garros, and won’t make things easy for the others.

Wozniacki was a favourite to do well in the French Open, but with an injury scare so soon before the start of the tournament who knows how that ankle will do under the Grand Slam pressure. Maria Sharapova has been steadily and methodically climbing her way up the rankings are months out with a shoulder injury. In a pretty ruthless fashion she has etched a mark in her return to the game, and is seeded 12th in the French Open competition. The Williams sisters dominate the top seeds, as per usual, but you can never quite be sure with those two. With Kim Clijsters out, all eyes turn to Justine Henin.

Nerves will be rocketing high among the players. I hope you’ve got your fantasy teams sorted out; what better way to extol your wonderful tennis knowledge than to hone a perfect fantasy tennis team?

The competition begins Sunday, and we can enjoy the argie-bargie that goes with the first round as players try to get some elbow room. Rub your hands with glee, sit back, and enjoy. I’ll be back with some more frequent and up-to-date blogs throughout the tournament.

- SophieG

Written by: SophieG

Add Your Comments

You must Sign In to post a comment.

« Back