Marin Cilic, the most vulnerable of the top 4 seeds, will look to at least match his quarter final of last year in the French Open. He should have it fairly easy in round one, with James Duckworth his opponent. The Australian takes advantage of his protected ranking to get a spot in the main draw.
Duckworth has played just 4 matches since the beginning of 2017 due to a long absence after foot surgery. He made a small return in Australia at the beginning of the year, going 1-2 in qualifiers in Brisbane and Melbourne. He has not played since and can’t be anywhere near match shape after his unfortunate run of luck.
Cilic had the best performance of his career in a big clay tournament a fortnight ago, making the semi finals of the Rome Masters. He was beaten by Alexander Zverev at that stage but did fight hard against the German, eventually losing 7-6(13) 7-5 in a tight one. “I think I [have] improved as a player over the years on clay,” said Cilic during Rome “Last year, I found a really good combination of training and also preparing for the matches, [so I] maybe slightly changed my game on clay.”
Real tests for Cilic may come later in the draw but he should not be too stretched early on. Kyle Edmund and Fabio Fognini will both be fancying their chances of making the quarter finals from this section but will not face Cilic until the fourth round.
Prediction – Marin Cilic in straight sets