The 2019 French Open is upon us with the second slam of the year beginning on Sunday. Rafael Nadal looks to defend the title he won last year while Novak Djokovic will be seeking to hold all four slams at the same time – having done so back in 2016. It will also be Roger Federer‘s first appearance at the event since 2015.
Full draw here: Roland Garros men’s 2019 Draw
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Djokovic heads the draw in a quarter that looks rather kind to him. The Serbian was back to his best over the last few weeks, taking the Madrid title before getting to the final in Rome. He ran out of steam in the final, losing to Rafael Nadal after a tiring final. Nonetheless, he has to be considered the strong favourite to make the final from the top half of the draw. He begins against Hubert Hurkacz, who has been having a strong year. The first seed he could play is Gilles Simon, while it could be someone youthful in round four. He recently crushed Denis Shapovalov in Rome while he holds a 3-0 record against Borna Coric, including twice on clay courts.
Djokovic is 2-2 against the projected quarter finalist Alexander Zverev, but this match is far from guaranteed. The German already has a disappointing career record in grand slams, making just one quarter final despite being a top 5 player for a good amount of time now. His 2019 has been mostly poor with several bad losses in the clay season and losing his first matches in Barcelona and Rome. If he wants to mount a run this fortnight, he will have to see off some of the stronger clay court players ranked in and around the top 20. He opens against John Millman but would later be set to play against Dusan Lajovic and Fabio Fognini, if seedings hold. The pair competed in the Monte Carlo Masters final earlier this year, with Fognini beating Zverev on his way to the title there. Nick Kyrgios would have been seeded for the tournament had he not been disqualified at the Rome Open.
With a record the last three years of SF, SF, F, Dominic Thiem has to be seen as the third favourite for this event after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Austrian clearly has an elite level game on the clay and has shown he can beat Nadal on a somewhat regular basis on the surface. He already has two titles this year, adding Barcelona to his shock victory at Indian Wells. Thiem should find it fairly straight forward in his first few rounds before with his first seeded opponent set to be Kyle Edmund in round three. The Brit has had an awful time on the clay this season – losing five matches in a row on the surface. At his best, Gael Monfils could be a danger to Thiem but his recent outing in Rome doesn’t leave much to get excited about. Following his loss from match points against Federer in Madrid, he won just 4 games in defeat to Albert Ramos Vinolas in the Italian Open.
Juan Martin Del Potro finishes the top half of the draw when it comes to the leading seeds and will hope to build on his Rome outing. He lost in the quarter finals but held match points against Novak Djokovic and displayed some outstanding tennis in the first two sets before falling to defeat against the World No.1. The Argentinian is a two time semi finalist in Paris but is going to have his work cut out to make that three, with some tough seeds in his section. Felix Auger-Aliassime is a top young talent and has already played some of the best tough. The Canadian comes into the event with at least a Lyon SF behind him while Karen Khachanov is definitely a must watch this fortnight. The 10th seed has not had the best of years on the surface but made the fourth round as an unseeded player last year and will have felt aggrieved to have lost to Alexander Zverev in five sets on that occasion.
There is going to be a huge amount of hype and excitement around Stefanos Tsitsipas‘ run here, with the Greek having an outstanding season so far. Already at No.6 by the age of 20, he could crack the Top 5 with a deep run this fortnight. He certainly has the game and has showcased it with some of his performances this year with wins over Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal all in the past month. A final in Madrid and a semi final in Rome definitely puts him in a good mindset coming into this tournament. He will be the favourite to advance from his section of the draw, despite the possibility of facing a former champion in round four. Stanislas Wawrinka comes into the tournament on a three match losing streak, most recently going down in 3 to Damir Dzumhur in Geneva. Frances Tiafoe and Marin Cilic are also seeded here with the latter most recently losing to Jan Lennard Struff in Rome.
With Tsitsipas and Roger Federer in the same section, plenty will be looking forward to another thriller if their Melbourne clash was anything to go by. Tsitsipas won that one in 4 tiebreak sets and would likely be favourite should this match happen. Federer has been decent in his return to the clay but has had to fight hard for a number of his victories. Two of them came from match point down while he was on the opposite side against Dominic Thiem, losing from match point up in Madrid. Federer was always a strong player on clay but was rarely recognised as such due to his best years seeing him finish second to the greatest on the surface. His run to the quarter finals should be interesting with 29th seed Matteo Berretini looking to be a rising star. He may also have to play a clay specialist in either Diego Schwartzman or Marco Cecchinato in round four. Cecchinato had his famous run to the semi finals a few years ago while Schwartzman is on a high having made the last four in Rome.
While it’s hard to pinpoint what would be a tough draw for Rafael Nadal, the last quarter does look particular generous for him with a projected quarter final against Kei Nishikori. The 7th seed is a solid enough performer on the surface but Nadal will be pleased to have avoided both Tsitsipas and Del Potro from the 5-8 range. Nishikori’s toughest opponent could well be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga if the Frenchman peaks at the right time this fortnight. He is in the tournament as a PR but does have plenty of tennis under his belt, finally re-entering the top 100 after time out with injury. Laslo Djere and Daniil Medvedev are the other seeds here, with the latter having a Barcelona final to his name this year – where he beat Nishikori on the way.
Nadal’s section rounds off the draw with two qualifiers to begin for the defending champion. David Goffin will seek to pull off a shock victory in round three while the highest seed he can face in the round of 16 will be Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Georgian won just one game when they met in Rome, getting completely outclassed by Nadal on his way to the Rome title. Concerns over his form seem to have disappeared now with Nadal peaking at exactly the right time, hoping for French Open title No.12.
SF – Novak Djokovic def Dominic Thiem
SF – Rafael Nadal def Stefanos Tsitsipas
F – Novak Djokovic def Rafael Nadal