Full Draw Here: Roland Garros 2013 Men’s Draw
The repercussions of seven-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal’s long absence from tennis continue to be felt even several months after his return. Despite world number two Andy Murray pulling out due to a back injury, the Spaniard only made it into the draw as the number three seed. Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer combine for a 5-27 record against Nadal on clay so clearly the big question is who got Rafa?
So the big news is that Nadal has fallen in the same half as top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic. The pair are scheduled to meet in the semi-finals, a match that some will see as the final in all but name. The bad news doesn’t stop there for the Serb as his quarter looks reasonably tough with a opener against David Goffin, who made it to the fourth round last year. Later on a potential third round showdown with Grigor Dimitrov beckons, the Bulgarian having sensationally defeated Djokovic at the Madrid Masters. Dimitrov has never been past the second round of a Grand Slam before and an alternative opponent for Djokovic at this stage could be Alejandro Falla.
Djokovic has more luck with his later seeded opponents with number 16 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber aiming to meet him in the fourth round. Alexandr Dolgopolov and the troubled Bernard Tomic are other possibilities at this stage. The quarter-final opponent is fellow Serb and number eight seed Janko Tipsarevic, who will face opposition from the evergreen Tommy Haas and sometime clay courter John Isner to make the rendezvous with Djokovic.
Round one to watch:
Grigor Dimitrov vs Alejandro Falla
It is a tough opener for the talented and popular Dimitrov as Falla has been as far as the fourth round in Paris. Nevertheless it is the sort of match the Bulgarian has to win if he’s to continue moving up the rankings. The potential for a showtime match in round three with Djokovic may just add a little extra incentive.
Roland Garros titan Nadal will open his campaign against Daniel Brands. The German’s failure to get past the first round of Roland Garros in four previous attempts does not inspire much hope he will be anything other than canon fodder for Nadal’s trusty Babolat. The likely second round opponent Martin Klizan is more interesting as the Slovak won the junior title in Paris back in 2006 and some decent results have pushed him as high as number 26. The third round could see a rematch with Nadal’s Wimbledon conqueror from last year, Lukas Rosol. Rosol will likely have to see off Italy’s Fabio Fognini first and can expect an exceptionally motivated Nadal if he does.
Potential seeded opponents for the fourth round are Benoit Paire and Kei Nishikori, with Marcos Baghdatis looking to get involved too. The number seven seed Richard Gasquet is Nadal’s expected quarter-final opponent, although the in-form Stan Wawrinka and Jerzy Janowicz could make it that far. Janowicz played well against Federer in Rome and is the type of player that could give Nadal some problems.
Round one to watch:
Benoit Paire vs Marcos Baghdatis
The attack-minded Frenchman and mercurial Cypriot should put on a good performance for what will presumably be a show court crowd.
David Ferrer heads up the third quarter and will see this tournament as a big opportunity to reach his first Grand Slam final. There is just one problem with this; he has never beaten his potential semi-final opponent Federer in 14 attempts, including five matches on clay. Still the Spaniard is playing as well as ever and will be looking to capitalise should Federer prove vulnerable. First up is Marinko Matosevic, who is perhaps best known for once knocking over one of Nadal’s carefully placed water bottles. The second round could well see Ferrer face off with his compatriot Albert Montanes with fellow Spaniards Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez among the contenders to play him in round three. Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic are the hard-serving seeds lined up for round four.
Ferrer’s slated quarter final opponent is number five seed Tomas Berdych, who scored a win over Djokovic in Rome. Before that the Czech starts against home favourite, and dangerous draw floater due to injury, Gael Monfils. In fact Berdych has something of a nightmare draw in the early rounds with Ernests Gulbis the likely opponent in round two and maybe the resurgent Tommy Robredo (who recently beat him in Barcelona) or former semi-finalist Jurgen Melzer after that. The pain doesn’t stop there with the dangerous clay specialist and 11th seed Nicolas Almagro a possible opponent in the fourth round. That run of opponents might well involve some gruelling matches and even if Berdych gets through, he may be short of the energy needed to combat Ferrer’s relentless style in the quarter-final. The worst draws can open up once the tournament gets underway though and Berdych will certainly be hoping for some shocks to clear his path a little.
Round one to watch:
Tomas Berdych vs Gael Monfils
The Frenchman got all the way to the semi-finals back in 2008 and his legions of fans will be hoping he can upset Berdych.
2009 champion Federer has the fortune to be surrounded by qualifiers for the first two rounds. The Swiss is less lucky with Julien Benneteau drawn as one of his potential third round opponents. The Frenchman upset Federer at Rotterdam in February having previously defeated him at the Paris Masters in 2009 and also held a two set advantage in the Wimbledon third round last year before ultimately losing in five sets. If Federer comes through intact this time he can expect to play Gilles Simon, who offered very little resistance in their recent encounter in Rome, or Sam Querrey. Simon has an interesting first round match with former world number one Lleyton Hewitt.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is seeded to face Federer in the quarter-final. France’s best hope for Roland Garros has a 3-9 deficit in their head-to-head but did defeat Federer at this stage of Wimbledon in 2011 and took the Swiss to five sets in their Australian Open encounter earlier this year. The main opposition to Tsonga in the early stages should come from Juan Monaco, compatriot Jeremy Chardy and Marin Cilic.
Round one to watch:
Nick Kyrgios vs Radek Stepanek
Kyrgios has been wild carded into the main draw after winning the junior title at the Australian Open and the Sydney Challenger earlier this year. At 34, Stepanek is 16 years older than his opponent, making this match an intriguing contrast as well as a possible glimpse at the future.
For the Roland Garros Women’s Draw 2013, please click here: French Open 2013 Women’s Draw
Michael Hale is a tennis writer based in London. You can follow him on Twitter via @TennisMike_