French Open 2018 gets underway in less than a week’s time. Defending Men’s Singles Champion, Rafael Nadal will look to add another La Coupe des Mousquetaires (his 11th) to his cabinet. So let’s take a look at a few things that will keep you on the edge of your seats during Roland Garros, the second Grand Slam of the year:
The fact that this has been the context of the tournament for over a decade stands testament to the sheer dominance of the Spaniard on this surface. The undisputed clay court champion went on to win La Decima (his 10th title) at the Roland Garros, that too, without dropping a single set! Losing a mere 35 games in the entire French Open. He has an incredible career win-loss record of 79-2 at the Tournament. It will take more than an extraordinary effort to dethrone the King of Clay.
Recovering from a persisting elbow injury, former world number 1, Novak Djokovic is getting his rhythm back. He reached the Round of 16 at Monte-Carlo Masters, but faced an upset in his opening match at the Barcelona Open. At Madrid Masters, he beat Kei Nishikori in the Round of 64 before being knocked out by Kyle Edmund. In the most recent Rome Masters, the Serbian played some brilliant tennis but evenutally lost to Rafael Nadal in the Semi-Finals.
The 2015 French Open Champion, Stan Wawrinka who is fully fit after recovering from a knee surgery can be a strong contender. While making a comeback at Madrid Masters after nearly 2 months and a half, the Swiss lost to Steve Johnson in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, but has shown a lot of promise ahead of the big fat French Open.
To beat Nadal is one thing and to beat him on clay surface is another. The Austrian, Dominic Theim has played Rafael Nadal 9 times in the pro circuit, all on clay surface and has won three times against ‘The King Of Clay’, including the most-recent win at the Madrid Masters Quarter-final. Not a bad record against someone who is just unbeatable on clay.
The 21-year old German won his 3rd Masters title beating Dominic Theim at Madrid Masters Final in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4. He’s a top player but hasn’t gone past the Fourth Round in French Open.
India’s top-ranked Singles player, Yuki Bhambri is all set to play his first ever main round event at Roland Garros. He reached a career-high ATP Singles Ranking of 83 with the Taipei Challenger win over fellow Indian, Ramkumar Ramanathan. It will be interesting to see how he performs on clay.
There will be plenty of support for some of the local players as well, including Benoit Paire, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon among others. These players have the game to create an upset at an early stage of the French Open, so do keep a lookout for them!