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Saturday, May 27, 2017

French Open 2017: Novak Djokovic is Rafa's Main Threat

Defending champion Novak Djokovic must've wished he would meet Nadal in the finals and not in the semi's, as what the draw has given him, but even then, one has to defeat everyone to win the title, whether they meet them earlier in the rounds, or later on.

He has had a respectable clay court season and his path to the semi's here in Roland Garros 2017 looks manageable, although he may have to contend with two very dangerous players, Lucas Pouille of France and Dominic Thiem of Austria along the way - and both can be true tests if he's ready for that semi-finals with Rafa - if they do both reach that stage.

Nevertheless, Novak is one of the players in the draw that may have some say if Rafa wins his tenth title here - or not.

French Open 2017: Rafael Nadal Set to Battle for 10th French Open Title

All of Nadal's fans must be heaving a big sigh of relief now that their man or at least the champion they knew of yore, looks like he's back.
After two lacklustre years of painfully watching him go through Roland Garros (I deliberately missed watching his matches), the gates of opportunity has opened for him once again - as if he's needed it - and his performance this clay season points to a possible 10th French Open title.
And his draw this year can certainly aid him. His first round match though is a test case of how ready he is - Benoit Paire of France is a highly respected player, and although his ranking has dipped this year, a chance to play Nadal is always a good opportunity to gauge where his game is as of the moment.
Nadal's other possible opponents as he goes deeper into the tournament may include Gilles Simon, Jack Sock and Milos Raonic, all very capable players, but not known to be clay court specialists, so it was easy for me to pick Rafa to get to the semifinal slot of his side of the draw.
Can he go all the way? On paper, Novak looms in the SFs and Murray for the title match, both very good match-ups, but in clay, with Rafa in form, the odds have often tilted towards his direction.
If this does pan out, tennis fans are in for another nostalgic grand slam moment reminiscent of Federer's win in the Australian Open earlier this year.
We can't let go of them, just yet.

French Open 2017: Men's Draw Pick #2 - Marin Cilic A Surprise Pick in a Crowded Draw

The tennis head-to-head can be a strange beast. In a relatively crowded French Open men's draw with good French players (Gasquet, Tsonga, Monfils), great Spanish players (Ferrer, Lopez) and Stan Wawrinka, it chose Marin Cilic as the player most likely to reach the semi's.

To think that I already modified the rule to the head-to-head within the past 3 years only. Even then, as the other seeds fall off, Marin remains the person to beat in this side of the draw, at least on paper.

Last year, he fell in the first round And he only reached as far as the 4th round in all his previous attempts.

It could be his year this year, or he could just as easily collapse.

We will see this week, as all his prospective opponents are no pushovers in clay - David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet.

Friday, May 26, 2017

French Open 2017: Men's Draw Pick #1 - Andy Murray Seeks His First Roland Garros Title

I haven't seen yet the full men's draw of the 2017 French Open tennis as the section I have checked, as of now, is just the top upper part. On that side of the draw is the current world #1, Andy Murray, and he is my pick to go all the way to the semi's.
His road to the semi's looks very challenging already, as he may have to meet three former top 10 players in each of the rounds, just to get there.
Former US Open champion Juan del Potro looms as early as the 3rd round, then Tomas Berdych in the 4th and Kei Nishikori in the QFs, if everything goes to script.

Then there are two in-form clay courters, who may also have the chance to upset Murray, Alexander Zverev and Pablo Cuevas, who both had a great 2017 clay court season.
Andy got as far as the finals here last year, and has three semi-final finishes and a quartefinal finish, so his confidence on the clay here has just improved these past few years.
I would like to see where Nadal is first, before I can say he has a good chance of winning this title for the very first time.