French Open Powerhouses and Dark Horses

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Rafael Nadal - After a 2011 clay court season slump, Rafael Nadal is back especially for revenge on Novak Djokovic.  Rafa won on the clay in Rome and Barcelona, yet lost in the 4th round of the Madrid Masters to fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. Despite the loss, Nadal still has confidence and momentum on his side, and his competitors should be worried going into the French Open. After all is Rafa’s house.

Novak Djokovic – While clearly not having the stellar clay court season of last year, Djokovic has reached 2 finals with the losses coming at the mercy of Nadal. As of late when Djokovic enters a grand slam, everything shifts into high gear. Especially at this years French since he hopes to claim the only slam he has yet to grasp. Plus, Djokovic knows he’s the only man capable of getting a career slam, and this year there will be an added glory if he can also win a gold medal. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but all I’m saying is don’t count out Djokovic.

Roger Federer - Here’s a man that you can never count out when it comes to slams, 16 time Grand Slam and the 2012 Madrid Masters champion. While Federer does have some momentum, it will be hard for him to take the title. It seems as if he can take advantage of times when the top 2 are out of the draw, Madrid this year is a great example of that. Yet, when it comes to facing Nadal and Djokovic it seems that he can no longer claim victory. Federer will have to be hoping very much for the luck of the draw at this year’s French Open, because he will need it if he wants to claim the title.

Juan Martin Del Potro – With a title in Estoril, and semi-final in Madrid, Del Potro is poised to be a contender at this year’s French Open. He’s also in the top 10, a spot that he feels very comfortable in. Yet, one of the questions surrounding Delpo as of late is one of confidence. He seems to be able to play great tennis against the lower ranked players, but when he is up against the top guys, his confidence waivers quite a bit. In Estoril, every opponent he faced was ranked lower than him and  ultimately he won the tournament. In Madrid, he easily won all his matches against lower ranked players, but then lost in the semis to world number 7 Tomas Berdych. Finally, in Rome when it came to facing number 5 ranked Tsonga, Delpo got beaten in the fourth round. Although the only factor holding him back is confidence, he has the  capability of coming out on top at the French Open. There are many people who believe in you Delpo!

Dark Horses

John Isner - The recent clay court Masters tournament were nothing to show for Isner. However, the previous final on the Houston clay and two Davis Cup wins on the red dirt are the reasons why John Isner has to be considered a dark horse. The American has improved tremendously in the past year, and he has more confidence in himself than ever. He’s currently ranked at number 11, but he really hopes to reach that elusive top 10. It will all depend on his performance at this year’s Roland Garros. Isner is capable of winning it, as long as he cleans up his return game a bit. He’s proved himself of clay, remember last year’s French Open first rounder against Nadal. He clearly did not deserve to be unseeded that tournament, but now he’s back with a great seeding position. Isner will take advantage of this opportunity, and make some noise within the draw.

David Ferrer – Ferrer seems to have a similar to problem to that of the aforementioned player’s. When he reaches a player with a higher ranking than him, he can’t seem to get past that round. With a final in Barcelona, quarters in Madrid, and semis in Rome, David Ferrer will surely knock out  lower ranked opponents to reach the later rounds. But the question remains: will he be able to get any farther than mid second week? That is unless this trend of losing against the top 3 player’s ends at the 2012 French Open.

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