You can check out the full draw here: French Open 2013 Men’s Draw
The French Open draw is finally here and one thing stands out straight away. The drama surrounding a potential Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic quarter final was defused after Andy Murray’s withdrawal pushed the Spaniard into the top four and instead they are projected to compete at the semi final stage in what should be a blockbuster affair.
Nadal has been in outstanding form, going 36-2 on the year with 8 finals from 8 tournaments with the only defeats coming to an inspired Horacio Zeballos in Vina del Mar and Djokovic in Monte Carlo. As always, he will be the man to beat at Roland Garros as he looks to take a record eighth title in France and his fourth in succession. Nadal currently leads the race rankings despite his non-appearance at the Australian Open and can extend his lead further with a title here. He begins his defence against the big serving Daniel Brands before a likely meeting with Martin Klizan. Before Vina del Mar, Nadal’s last outing was at Wimbledon where he was defeated in five sets thanks to an outstanding performance from Lukas Rosol. If Rosol can make it to the third round, a rematch is on the cards but it is difficult to see lightning striking twice especially on the clay despite the Czech’s improved form this year. Other seeds in Nadal’s section include Kei Nishikori (4-0 H2H) and Benoit Paire, whom Nadal has already defeated twice this year.
Ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka has been in great form recently, making the final of Madrid and winning the title in Oeiras. However, he was forced to withdraw from Rome through injury so it is difficult to imagine him being a big threat to Nadal especially with the awful matchup. Nadal leads the head to head 9-0 and has not dropped a set in any of their matches, including the Madrid final. Horacio Zeballos also resides in this section but has failed to keep up the form that saw him defeat Nadal earlier in the year. Jerzy Janowicz continues to prove he isn’t a fluke, defeating another two top 10 players in Rome in Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. A Nadal-Janowicz quarter final would make for interesting viewing and the Pole is more than capable of taking advantage of the draw if Wawrinka is not 100%. Richard Gasquet has never made it past the fourth round here but his seeding projects him to make the quarter finals, where he would look to avoid losing for the tenth time in a row against Nadal.
You would make Nadal the favourite to beat any player on the tour on this surface right now, but his vulnerabilities have been shown against Novak Djokovic. Djokovic is 8-3 against Nadal since 2011, although he lost all three meetings last year including a final at this very tournament. Their one meeting this year was the final of the Monte Carlo Masters in which Djokovic came out on top in straight sets. However, Djokovic has shown he is beatable with defeats to Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov in recent weeks. If Djokovic wants to get to the semi final he may well have to beat both of these on the way. David Goffin and Ivan Dodig/Guido Pella should pose little threat in the early rounds before the projected round three with Dimitrov. However, the Bulgarian is no gimme given his struggles in the longer format and Alejandro Falla will be a tough opponent. The bottom part of Djokovic’s section looks tough to call with Alexandr Dolgopolov and Philipp Kohlschreiber the seeds. Djokovic defeated Dolgopolov in Rome last week with ease while Kohlschreiber already holds a victory over Djokovic at Roland Garros, defeating the then world No.4 in straight sets in 2009.
Haas has shown he can still compete at 35 but there are questions over his ability to compete for 5 sets these days so there may be a chance for John Isner to make his mark at the tournament if he can see off a very competent clay court player in Carlos Berlocq first up. Last year saw Isner being tipped by many to be a dark horse at the tournament after wins over Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the surface in Davis Cup action only to exit in the second round. Isner also defeated Djokovic last year to make the final of Indian Wells but has struggled to reach those heights this year. Janko Tipsarevic is eighth seed and projected to make the quarter finals but it is hard to have any confidence in the all Serbian quarter final materialising with Mikhail Youzhny or even Fernando Verdasco having good chances to knock off a top 8 seed.
The bottom half of the draw looks very lopsided with one Roger Federer being the beneficiary with him playing qualifiers for the first two rounds. Pablo Carreno-Busta has been outstanding on the futures tour this year and looked competent at ATP level but it is far too early for the young Spaniard to cause Federer any trouble here and the same has to be said for the winner of the Daniel Munoz de la Nava/Somdev Devvarman tie with Julien Benneteau the other seed in his section. The Frenchman has troubled Federer twice in the past year, most recently taking a stunning straight sets victory in Rotterdam. He really should have knocked out the eventual champion at Wimbledon too, holding a two set lead before eventually losing. Sam Querrey‘s record at Roland Garros leaves a lot to be desired while Gilles Simon won just three games from Federer on the Rome clay a fortnight ago. Marin Cilic (4-0 H2H) and Juan Monaco (2-0 H2H) are amongst the seeds fighting for a place in the quarter finals but it is difficult to see past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga if he plays his best tennis. He held multiple match points against Novak Djokovic last year but couldn’t convert. 2011 saw Tsonga memorably beat Federer at Wimbledon and despite suggestions that the Swiss is on the decline, he will need to be at that level if he is to ensure victory.
While Federer seems to have a straight forward ride to the quarter finals, Tomas Berdych has anything but that. An in-form Gael Monfils is first up, with the Frenchman making back to back finals in the form of Bordeaux Challenger and Nice 250. A motivated Ernests Gulbis is always dangerous and given that he has played two tough three setters with Nadal in recent months it suggests that he is ready to stick around this time. One time semi finalist Jurgen Melzer or Tommy Robredo look likely third round opponents, with the latter already taking a clay title this year. For someone often accused of faltering against the top players except Roger Federer, the Czech’s win over Novak Djokovic in Rome will do wonders for his confidence. A potential fourth rounder with Nicolas Almagro doesn’t look as intimidating given his dominance over the Spaniard, leading the head to head 9-3 and has won their past four encounters. The 3-6 record against David Ferrer looks a bit more worrying though.
With Nadal and Djokovic out the way, Ferrer will never have had a better chance to make a slam final on his favourite surface. On his way there, it looks more than likely he will have to defeat two of his countrymen with Albert Montanes, winner of Nice this week up if both win their respective openers. Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez play each other with the former yet to win against Ferrer in 5 meetings. Big servers Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson should see success in the early round but may find it tough against Ferrer in a fourth round clash. Raonic has met Ferrer twice on clay, losing both times with the most recent in two tiebreak sets.
Although many believe that the Djokovic-Nadal clash will render the final fairly uneventful due to the pairs dominance over the rest, it will be interesting to see the possibility of a new name in the final. Tomas Berdych is more than capable if he can tough his way through the early rounds while Ferrer will feel he can finally end his losing streak against Roger Federer. Federer has shown he is still capable of beating Djokovic and should be about late in the tournament to take advantage if Nadal is dispatched by Djokovic or early.
SF: Nadal d. Djokovic
SF: Berdych d. Federer
F: Nadal d. Berdych