May 29, 2021

French Open 2021 Preview: Round by Round

It's been just over seven months since we crowned the last king and queen of Roland Garros, and yet, on the eve of the 2021 French Open it somehow feels like it's taken such a long road to get back.

After all, it's been a dramatic clay court season, with surprising upsets, stunning statements, and pretty impressive breakthroughs.

Rafael Nadal has proven he is not invincible on clay. Perennial powerhouse Simona Halep had to withdraw due to a calf injury. And for the first time, possibly in history, we have two defending women's champions back to keep their win streaks here going -- and they've both made pretty good cases for themselves.

As the draws shake out, we have the opportunity to see some fierce match-ups, and the surprises could start coming right at the get go. So here's a look at some of the possibilities and the potential battles that could really make things interesting at Roland Garros this year.

And, as with the last time, I'm essentially resetting the draw after each pairing -- someone who had to be eliminated for one match to take place may show up later in another one. It's only because there have been so many standouts this season that there's no other way to cover it all.

So let's dive right in.


First Round

Aryna Sabalenka (3) vs. Ana Konjuh (Q): Well this is a tough first round for both players. The heavy favorite Sabalenka is at a career-high ranking and is pretty fresh off picking up the biggest title of her career in Madrid. She also made the final in Stuttgart and, of course, has been putting one of the strongest win streaks out there. But...she has never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Konjuh, meanwhile, made the quarters at the U.S. Open years ago, and after a long recovery from injury is finally back in form. She scored wins over Madison Keys and Iga Swiatek in Miami and successfully pivoted to clay with a final run in Belgrade. Still at #144 in the world -- she was sub-300 in Miami -- she had to fight through qualies to get here, but she could put up quite the fight against someone many consider a potential champion.

Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Jelena Ostapenko: Last year's runner-up opens her point defense against 2017's recently resurging champion, and I'm not sure I like her chances. Kenin has struggled with injury and form and has only won one match since the Australian Open. Meanwhile, Ostapenko is coming off a quarterfinal showing in Rome. But the young American has a new coach and has shown that she's more than capable of shaking off bad losses. Still, this one is going to be close.

Carla Suarrez Navarro vs. Sloane Stephens: CSN's farewell tour was disrupted first by COVID and then, tragically, by cancer, but she's back for one last hurrah at Roland Garros and all sorts of sentiment is one her side. It's hard to tell what condition she'll be in (though her social profile suggests she's in fighting form), but she'll certainly face a challenger at the outset. Suarrez's first round opponent is the 2018 runner-up in Paris, and while Sloane famously rides a roller coaster in terms of performance, she may be on the upswing -- she made the quarters in both Charleston and Parma, with wins over favorites both times. Still, the Spaniard, twice a quarterfinalist here, has had some career-defining wins over the years, and hopefully has a few more left in her.

Veronika Kudermetova (29) vs Amanda Anisimova: The on-paper favorite has had a strong year, with a run to the final in Abu Dhabi and her maiden title in Charleston. It's bad luck that she'll open her campaign here against 2019's surprise semifinalist. But it's been a tough two years for the young American -- after suffering the death of her father during her breakout year, she kicked off this season with a COVID diagnosis and an ankle injury and she's struggled to gain traction ahead of her return to Paris. Still, at only 19, she's probably got a lot of room to surprise us, and she's beaten much more formidable opponents on these courts before. If she's playing at her best, this one could be a battle.

Second Round

Bianca Andreescu (6) vs. Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (Q): The former U.S. Open champ doubled her 2019 win record on clay with her performance in Strasbourg. Unfortunately, that means she still only has two wins on the surface this year. She cut her run short last week to take care of an ab injury, and she'll be tested pretty quickly on the big stage. MCOS, after all, has been racking up wins this season -- the 19-year-old picked up her first title as a wildcard in Bogota, made the semis the next week in Charleston, and picked up in Europe with a run to the semis in Belgrade. That got her into the top hundred -- not soon enough to have her avoid qualifying rounds, but she breezed through those without dropping a set. She's faced Andreescu what feels like years ago, in the final of an ITF event in Oklahoma, and only won one game, but something tells me things will be different this time around.

Serena Williams (7) vs. Arantxa Rus: Rus has had some huge wins on big stages over the years, stunning then-#2 Kim Clijsters at Roland Garros in 2011 and then-#5 Sam Stosur at Wimbledon a year later. But that was a long time ago, and she really never came to much after that. She did upset second seed Jessica Pegula this past week in Strasbourg, though, and came OHSOCLOSE to beating Williams last year in "Cincinnati" too. Could she seal the deal this time? Possibly -- as Serena continues to go for that elusive 24th Major, she's hit one roadblock after another, and she hasn't really found her footing on clay this year. She'll put up a fight, of course, but everyone should know by now that she's far from invincible, and if both these ladies make the second round, Rus certainly has a shot at an upset.

Garbiñe Muguruza (12) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo: I was all aboard the Sorribes bandwagon in the early spring -- the 24-year-old was impressive in her run to a maiden title in Guadalajara and even more impressive in her quarterfinal fight against Bianca Andreescu in Miami. Strangely, for a Spaniard, she's been a little quiet on clay. Her compatriot, meanwhile, was the champion here five years ago and is a far better player than her ranking suggests. It's a tough early round for both, but one that could spark some fireworks.

Ekaterina Alexandrova (32) vs. Barbora Krejcikova: Krejcikova is a decorated doubles star, with a couple Major trophies over the years -- she and Katarina Siniakova won both the French and Wimbledon in 2018 and were runners-up in Melbourne earlier this season. But she's really started gaining traction on the singles scene over the last few months, making the fourth round in Paris last fall and the final in Dubai in March. But Alexandrova is no slouch either -- she beat Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek in the Gippsland draw to start the year -- and I'm perennially shocked to see how "low" her ranking is. These two have met twice already this year, with the seed getting the win at the Australian Open and Krejcikova pulling off the upset this past week on her way to the title in Strasbourg. Given the surface, I wouldn't be surprised to see that outcome play out again.

Third Round

Naomi Osaka (2) vs. Paula Badosa (33): This is where things get interesting. Osaka isn't the best player on clay -- she's never made it out of the third round here, and she lost early in both Madrid and Rome -- and her draw got a whole lot harder on Friday with the withdrawal of 27th seed Alison Riske. That's because it elevated Belgrade champion Paula Badosa into seeding territory, and the red-hot Spaniard already has wins over Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic on clay this year. Badosa had before been in the Sabalenka/Serena quarter, but even as the lowest seed things are looking a lot better for her now, and if she can pull of a win here, it might be hard to stop her until the semis.

Jennifer Brady (13) vs. Coco Gauff (24): Brady may be the more seasoned player here, and she may have some impressively deep showings at the most recent Slams, but this is a whole new court, and Coco's been the one grabbing all the headlines on it. A semifinal run in Rome and not one but two titles in Parma brought her to a career high ranking of #25 in the world, and a couple wins here will certainly drive her even higher. Of course, this match-up is not a sure thing -- Gauff could face Melbourne Cinederella Su-Wei Hsieh in the second round, while Brady may have to get through clay specialist Fiona Ferro herself. But if they both make it, I feel like the edge goes to the younger phenom.

Nadia Podoroska vs. Sorana Cirstea: This potential battle would require a couple upsets early on -- Cirstea opens against 2019 French semifinalist Johanna Konta, while 2020 French semifinalist Podoroska will start her point defense against tenth seed Belinda Bencic. But there's plenty of reason to believe both can pull off the wins. Cirstea, a one-time quarterfinalist at Roland Garros -- twelve years ago! -- has her groove back after a title in Istanbul and a second place finish in Strasbourg, while Konta has only scored three match wins this year. And Podoroska, who stunned Serena Williams in Rome, could easily get the better of a recently-spotty Bencic. In any case, I'm excited to see these two face off and can't even begin to pick the favorite.

Fourth Round

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Karolina Muchova (18): Svitolina is a solid clay court player and has had a lot of success on the courts of Paris, making the quarters three times. But while she's had some decent wins this year -- Petra Kvitova in Miami and Stuttgart, Garbiñe Muguruza in Rome -- she hasn't really had a standout moment in a little while. After all the upsets at the French last year, she was for a brief moment a favorite for the title, but then got crushed> by Nadia Podoroska in the final eight. Muchova, on the other hand, had her coming out party a few months ago, beating Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty on the way to her first Slam semi in Melbourne. And about a month ago she beat Naomi Osaka en route to the Madrid quarters. She's slated for a rematch with her compatriot, a three-time finalist in Rome, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her make another attempt at a deep run now.

Petra Kvitova (11) vs. Danielle Collins: Collins may only be ranked #50 in the world, but she is no slouch on clay, having reached the quarters last year with wins over Ons Jabeur and Garbiñe Muguruza along the way. She's had some big successes this season too, taking out Karolina Pliskova at the Yarra Valley Classic and Ashleigh Barty in Adelaide. But she had to undergo a pretty harrowing surgery for endometriosis last month and hasn't been seen on court in a while. She says she's playing without pain and more consistently now, though, which could make her an even bigger force than she usually is. While she might have to get through Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams first, she could very well set up a showdown with last year's semifinalist at the end of the first week. Kvitova is one of those consistent favorites, though, and always seems to up her game when you least expect it. I imagine this could be a fun one.

Maria Sakkari (17) vs. Jessica Pegula (28): Sakkari is one of those players I really want to see big things from, and she gets so close to making that happen so often. Last year she pulled off a massive win over Serena in "Cincy", but lost the next round; this year she stunned Naomi Osaka in Miami, and again dropped a match later. Pegula, on the other hand, has had a little more follow through, even when she's a far bigger underdog. After stunning Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the Australian Open this year, she went all the way to the quarters. Then as a qualifier, for some reason, in Doha she made her way to the semis. And while she did lose to Sakkari in Miami, she followed up a win over Osaka in Rome to make the final eight there. Seeded at a Slam for the first time, she might have to make it past last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin first, but if there's one thing we should know about Pegula by now, it's that she's more than capable of pulling off one upset after another.

Petra Martic (22) vs. Shelby Rogers: Not that long ago I wouldn't have given Martic a second glance, but the 2019 quarterfinalist here, coached now by former French champion Francesca Schiavone, seemed invigorated in her run to the semis in Rome. But Rogers has made the quarterfinals in Paris before too, and she'll want to avenge her loss to Martic in the first round in Rome. It won't be easy for either of these two to get the rematch -- Martic is slated to face Garbiñe Muguruza in the third round, while the American could run up against the defending most-recent champ Iga Swiatek even sooner -- but it'll be interesting if they're able to make it.


Serena Williams (7) vs. Victoria Azarenka (15): Okay, okay, I know, this one's a long shot. Neither of these ladies has been playing her best recently, Serena getting upset in both Rome and Parma, while a persisent back injury forced Vika to pull out of matches in Melbourne, Doha, and Madrid. But, for old time's sake -- not event that old -- let's just say they're able to return to form again. I mean, remember that match last year in New York? Wouldn't it be fun to see that again? And if anyone can pull off the comeback, it's these two.

Elise Mertens (14) vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Q): Okay, now we're talking about long shots, but hear me out. Mertens has been one of the most under-the-radar but consistent players on tour the last several months, reaching at least the quarters in ten of her last 15 tournaments and picking up a title in Gippsland too. On clay she beat Veronika Kudermetova in Istanbul and Simona Halep in Madrid, so you know she's comfortable on this surface. Schmiedlova, meanwhile, may be far removed from the career-high ranking she hit half a decade ago, but with a win over Azarenka here just last year she's more than capable of an upset or two. Can she, as a qualifier, make it all the way to a quarterfinal? Well she's got some big obstacles in her way, starting with Iga Swiatek in the third round and Garbiñe Muguruza one after that. But what fun would sports be if we didn't get a few surprises?


Ashleigh Barty (1) vs. Iga Swiatek (8): It doesn't happen very often that you have two simultaneously defending champions at a Major, but as COVID kept Barty from traveling to Paris last fall, Swiatek was able to gloriously take up the mantle in her absense. Their only previous meeting in the fourth round of Madrid was disappointingly straightforward, with the earlier titleist getting the win in straight sets. But while the world #1 has a field-leading 13 wins on clay so far this season, the younger Swiatek stormed back onto our radars with a trophy in Rome and seems primed to make a potential second meeting a little closer -- and possibly raise the bar for how two champions should compete.


Ashleigh Barty (1) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (3): There is a lot that can happen over the course of the next two weeks, but it seems fitting that the two winningest players this season could face off in another final. They already split their title contests in Stuttgart and Madrid, so why not add Paris to their rivalry? I admit, I've been skeptical about Barty's staying power in the past, but she's really proven she's deserving of that #1 ranking. Sabalenka may have a little more work to do, though -- despite a career-high ranking and a long and impressive win streak, she's never gotten out of the fourth round of a Major. And with a tough first round here she'll be tested off the bat. But in a half that's really wide open, I'd expect something big from her now.


First Round

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Alexander Bublik: I'll save the complaints about Medvedev's second seeding for later, but regardless, there's no doubt he's had one of the strongest twelve-month stretches out there. Still, he's not a fan of the clay -- something he's made very clear over the past few months. He's one just one of three matches on the surface the year -- and has a barely better record for his still-young career -- and has never won a round at Roland Garros. It'll be hard to change that against the barely unseeded Bublik, a player I continue to believe is better than his ranking. The Kazakh isn't that much better on dirt, but he did manage to make the quarters in Madrid, with wins over Denis Shapovalov and Aslan Karatsev. Whether he makes a big statement here, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get at least this upset.

David Goffin (13) vs. Lorenzo Musetti: The seeded Goffin has had a couple of pleasantly surprising results this year -- taking the title in Montpellier and stunning Alexander Zverev in Monte Carlo -- but outside of that, he's been pretty quiet. Nineteen-year-old Musetti, on the other hand, has continued to climb the rankings, making the quarters in Cagliari and the semis in Lyon. I'm kind of calling for the upset here, but what a confidence boost it would be if Goffin could get a win over this up-and-coming/already-arrived star.

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Mackenzie McDonald (Q): McDonald is still well off his career high ranking, but a fourth round showing in Melbourne and a Challengers title in Nur Sultan have helped boost him a little. He still had to play qualies here, though, but made it through without losing a set. For his efforts, he gets a shot at the 22-year-old Finn whose name I had to learn how to spell after a solid defeat of Alexander Zverev in Miami. It's certainly a winnable match for the young American, but not one he should take for granted. And if he can pass the test, it could help launch him back where he belongs.

Second Round

Dominic Thiem (4) vs. Federico Delbonis: Thiem is a two-time finalist here and a fairly-newly-minted Grand Slam champion, but a nagging knee injury has really hampered his effectiveness this year. While he managed a decent run in Madrid, he's been upset more than he's been winning. Delbonis, meanwhile, has been pretty active all spring, playing week in and week out, upsetting Pablo Carreño Busta in Spain, reaching the quarters in Rome, and this past week reaching the semis in Belgrade. He's never had a lot of success at the Majors, only made the third round once at the Australian Open five years ago, but this might be the best chance he's had in a while.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) vs. Sebastian Korda: It wouldn't be a Major if we didn't see at least a few popcorn matches right at the start, and this could be one of them. Twenty-year-old Korda has been slashing his ranking all year, reaching the final in Delray, the quarters in Miami, and this past week picking up his first tour-level title in Parma, ousting top seeded Lorenzo Sonego on the way. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has two clay titles of his own this season, including his first Masters crown in Monte Carlo. The two have a huge opportunity here, in the half of the draw with just one Grand Slam title -- compared to the top half with fifty-nine combined -- and it's a shame that one will have to go home early. But you can be sure they'll both be battling to make sure they're not that one.

Lorenzo Sonego (26) vs. Cameron Norrie: The 26-year-old Italian is another one who's been climbing up the rankings in recent months. Since that miraculous win over Novak Djokovic last year in Vienna, he's gone on to win a title in Cagliari and score wins over Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem in Rome. Norrie notches his own upset of Thiem on his way to the Lyon final and also came in second in Estoril. He has yet to bring home that maiden title, but he's certainly finding his footing on the clay. The winner of this match will have a tough road ahead of him -- Rafael Nadal likely awaits in the third round -- but it certainly will make a case for potentially bigger runs over the year.

Third Round

Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (Q): Here's another potentially explosive early match-up. Rublev has followed up nicely on his breakthrough season, reaching the quarters of his last three Majors, picking up another title in Rotterdam, and absolutely stunning Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo. Eighteen-year-old Alcaraz's successes have been on a much smaller scale, but a semifinal run in Marbella, a Challengers title in Oerias, and a perfect record in the Roland Garros qualies, gives him a nice winning streak coming into the main event. He'll likely face Munich and Doha champ Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round, but sparks may really start to fly if he can set up the match with the top-ten Russian -- and it could give us a good taste of what the future of tennis will look like.

Diego Schwartzman (10) vs. Aslan Karatsev (24): This one pains me. After a late-in-his-career breakout, which included a win over Rafael Nadal last year in Rome, Schwartzman's been pretty quiet in 2021, losing his opening round four times. I am somewhat mollified by the fact that he did pick up a title in Buenos Aires and that his losses came against talented players, but it's still not a precedent you like to see. Karatsev, on the other hand, has been virtually unstoppable. Since his Cinderella run in Melbourne, he picked up his first title in Dubai and scored wins over Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, and, yes, Diego Schwartzman. I wouldn't be surprised if things go his way again, but I'm hoping the Argentine is able to find his magic again.

Roberto Bautista Agut (11) vs. Kei Nishikori: It's been a long time since we've seen fan-favorite Nishikori at the top of his game, but this could be the best chance he's had in a while to make a statement at a Slam. At his lowest ranking in nearly a decade thanks to yet another battle with injury, he's still able to get the better of his opponents. He beat David Goffin in Dubai, Karen Khachanov in Madrid, and Fabio Fognini in Rome. RBA can't be overlooked though -- he's reached finals in Montpellier and Doha this year, beating Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem at the latter, and the semis in Miami, with a win over Daniil Medvedev there. But clay is weirdly not his best surface, which could crack open the door a bit for the man from Japan.

Jannik Sinner (18) vs. Albert Ramos-Viñolas: Sinner is another one of those youngsters quickly making a habit of beating top-ranked players. A quarterfinalist at the French last year, he won two titles to bridge the seasons and made a play for the big leagues with a run to the final at the Miami Masters. Ramos has been pretty busy himself, quietly amassing 17 wins on clay this season and claiming a title in Estoril to boot. He'll have to get past Gael Monfils in the first round, but with the Frenchman having only won match in the last year-plus, his bigger challenge will likely be against the wünderkind, and that one could be fun to watch.

Reilly Opelka (32) vs. Tommy Paul: It's easy to overlook the Americans on clay -- especially the men -- but these guys have been putting up some nice results over the past few weeks. Big-serving Opelka is coming off a run to the semis in Rome, where he took out Lorenzo Musetti and Aslan Karatsev, and could make a play to become the top-ranked man in the States. Paul is a little further down the rankings, but he pulled off some nice wins this past week in Parma, beating Jiri Vesely and Jan-Lennard Struff on his way to the final four. He's suppsed to face Daniil Medvedev in the second round, but as I've mentioned, that's not a guarantee -- nor is beating Alexander Bublik, to be honest -- but if he makes it, a battle against his countryman would give someone a little bit of bragging rights.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs. Arthur Cazaux (W): This one might take a little bit of doing, but it's not the craziest of thoughts. ADF has followed up nicely on his strong 2020 season, making the quarters in Monte Carlo and the semis in Estoril. And while likely second round opponent Hubert Hurkacz scored the biggest-yet win of his career in Miami, he's been less impressive on clay, winning just one match so far against world #171 Thomas Fabbiano in Monte Carlo. Eighteen-year-old Cazaux is playing his very first Major main draw -- he lost first round qualifying in Paris last year to Aslan Karatsev -- but he has scored wins this year over Sebastian Korda and Adrian Mannarino. And we know how well French wildcards can do at Roland Garros. Cazaux would likely need to get past super-surging Casper Ruud -- more on that later -- to set up this one, but stranger things have happened.

Fourth Round

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Marco Cecchinato: During those years I'd stopped writing and paying attention to every twist and turn in the tennis world, something very strange happened -- Novak Djokovic stopped winning Majors! After locking in the Career Grand Slam at the French in 2016, he went on a two-plus year stretch without earning another big title. And one of the biggest surprises during that run came at the hands of Marco Cecchinato, who stunned him in the Paris quarters in 2018. Then it was the Italian's turn to start losing -- eight straight Major first rounds as his ranking dropped back out of the top hundred. He may be getting back on track, though, reaching the final this past week in Parma. It's not crazy to think he might be able to engineer a rematch -- the first seed he'd face is Alex de Minaur, who's only ever won one match here, and the second is David Goffin, who might not make it even that far -- though expecting a repeat is probably a little less likely. Still, it'd be fun to see him try.

Roger Federer (8) vs. Matteo Berrettini (9): Now this one scares me. It's been over a year since we've seen Roger at a Major, and his performance since has been spotty at best. He drew the short end of the draw stick, with both Rafa and Nole in his half of the bracket, and the other Grand Slam champion in this section, Marin Cilic, is his probably second round opponent. Meanwhile, Berrettini has been suprisingly impressive of late, winning a title in Belgrade and making the final in Madrid. Fed has won their two prior meetings in 2019, but if the seedings play out as expected early, things may go differently this time around. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.


Dominic Thiem (4) vs. Daniel Evans (25): Weirdly, it might be the lower-rated Brit that has the better chance of setting up this match. Evans, who kicked off this year with his first career title at the Murray River Open, may have scored the win of his career when he beat Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo. That certainly makes him more of a factor on a surface that's not traditionally his best. Thiem, though, who usually thrives on clay, has been a little more spotty post injury and has plenty of challenges on his route. So does Evans, of course, but if he survives, this one could be fun.

Alexander Zverev (6) vs. Casper Ruud (15): In an alternate universe Madrid champion makes good on his seeding, beating Evans in the third round, and Geneva titleist Casper Ruud, who also took out Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid, overcomes Thiem too, setting up what may, in the end, be a more likely quarterfinal. I begrudgingly admit Zverev has remained a force despite his off-court drama, and with some easy early rounds, should make it through relatively unscathed. And Ruud, who's sitting at a career-high ranking, is due for a Major breakout. There's no reason this can't be it for him.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Rafael Nadal (3): It's not often that these two face off outside a final, especially at the French, so the fact that they're doing so now has plenty of people up in arms. After all, it's a pretty big injustice that Nadal is seeded third here -- sure, you can argue that he's had a quieter 12 months than world #2 Daniil Medvedev, but given the latter's obvious disdain for the surface -- and the former's dominance on it -- you'd think there could be some leeway. There are plenty of reasons for Rafa fan's to be nervous -- the last time he took on the Djoker before the final Sunday in Paris did not go his way, and he's been less than perfect this clay court season. Then again, so has Nole. And given how close their last meeting was, you know this one is going to be close. Whoever wins, though, if they're not completely spent from the battle, you have to think comes away with the title.


Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5): This pick may not be what the seedings predict, but given this clay court season it would be the most appropriate. Rafa, of course, will have to make it through a half which contains all of the Big Three, with a combined 58 Grand Slam titles between them -- adding in 2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic makes it 59 -- not to mention a potential quarterfinal against Andrey Rublev, the man who beat him in Monte Carlo. Tsitsipas, on the other hand, with a season-leading 16 wins on clay this year, compared to Nadal's 14, has it relatively easy, with just one Major title in his half. He's never reached a final at this level though, falling just short at last year's French, but there's no question these have been the two best players on the surface this year. And given how close their previous matches have been, if they get a chance to play for this crown, you know it's going to be a good one.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Alexander Zverev (6): In another alternate universe, hearts are broken and justice is not served, but two very strong clay courters nevertheless reach the final. Djokovic made up for his slow start to the clay season, bringing home a title at the second Belgrade Open earlier today. And if there is anyone who'll be able to recover in time for a Slam, it's him. He doesn't often get the better of Nadal on these courts, but he's got what might be the best shot he's had in a long time this year. After all, he only barely lost the title to him in Rome, and that after a double header the day before. Zverev, meanwhile, has his own win over Nadal at a clay Masters and an arguably easier road to what woud be his second Slam final. If this is the championship we get, you know I'll be all in for Nole -- but Zverev seems destined for a trophy soon, and this might just be his time.

Well there you have it, the matches I hope or believe we'll see over the next two weeks at Roland Garros. Of course, we can't bank on anything at the Majors, and as much as we know we should never count out Rafa here, there are plenty of others ready to take up the mantle, and a lot more primed to make a big splash.

And as we kick off the second Grand Slam of the year, let's hope we can make it a good one.

No comments: