French Open 2015: Quick thoughts about the men’s draw

This year i’ve generally taken a backseat on following the ATP tour here on Moo’s Tennis Blog. I’ve still been following it, but I haven’t had the time to do previews and also, I feel I can do the WTA more justice. I’ll be at Roland Garros on Sunday and Monday, and will have some new ATP photos for the blog! Also, i’ll be posting on my dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages so please follow if you don’t already. I’m off work for the majority of Wimbledon so i’m hoping Moo’s Tennis Blog will be even more a hive of activity! Anyway, here are some quick thoughts upon first look of the draw…

DjokovicDjokovic-Nadal QF

Well, that was kind of inevitable! Nadal’s placement in the draw was the biggest talking point pre-draw. If Nadal and Djokovic were to meet in the quarters, it would be quite a spectacle. Djokovic’s draw looks routine with Kevin Anderson, Richard Gasquet and Bernard Tomic the highest seeds he can meet before the quarters. Nadal’s draw is marginally more challenging with a potential second rounder against Alexandr Dolgopolov or Nicolas Almagro. I was thinking about who it would favour out of Nadal and Djokovic to meet so early… well early by their standards. I’d probably say Djokovic as it seems to take Nadal more time to get going. We’ll just have to wait and see whether the Nadal v Djokovic quarter comes to fruition…

All-Aussie R2 match?

The talented trio of Aussies, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis has been a refreshing new storyline on the ATP tour this year. Tomic and Kokkinakis could play each other in the second round. Tomic was super consistent through the first half of the year, winning at least two matches at his first seven tournaments.  Tomic though, has gone 0-3 on the clay including a loss to his first round opponent in Paris, Luca Vanni in Madrid. Kokkinakis has been steadily improving all year and hasn’t lost a match in qualifying tournaments this year, successfully qualifying on six occasions. This included at a Challenger event in Bordeaux last week, which he played after failing to get to Rome after the airport fire.  Kokkinakis won a total of seven matches and went onto to win the title. Of all the up-and-comers on the ATP tour, Kokkinakis (along with Andrey Rublev) are the two that excite me the most. It may be a little too early to be expecting Kokkinakis to do much at the Slams, but i’d go for Thanasi to reach the third round.

Dimitrov’s drawn a stinker

After a shaky spell between the Australian Open and Miami, Grigor Dimitrov has steadied the ship somewhat on clay. He did get dropped a third set bagel against Fabio Fognini in Rome, but made the quarters in Madrid. There is still a sense that the tennis world are selling his shares rather than buying them. There hasn’t been a great deal of discussion surrounding Dimitrov pre-RG and it’s unlikely to gather steam as he has a tough draw. Dimitrov opens against Jack Sock, who won his first ATP title in Houston on clay last month. Dimitrov leads the head-to-head 1-0 with a three set victory in Stockholm (which featured a pair of incredible hotshots). It’s a match i’d expect Dimitrov to win, but equally, wouldn’t be surprised to see Dimitrov lose. Also in Dimitrov’s section are Tommy Robredo and Borna Coric. Robredo beat Dimitrov at Indian Wells this year although Robredo hasn’t played since Barcelona. Coric is also one to watch and reached the semi-finals in Nice. If Dimitrov comes through his first three matches, Rafa could loom in the last 16.

Murray in the top half

The top half features Djokovic, Nadal andddd Andy Murray. The Brit is unbeaten on clay this year… who would have thought it?! Despite a magnificent run in Munich and Madrid, winning back-to-back titles, I still wouldn’t place Murray in my top three or four contenders. Perhaps, it’s the over-eagerness of the British media that makes me step back a little but i’d still question if Murray could beat Nadal over a best of five set match, let alone Djokovic. Murray’s draw actually looks quite tricky. First up is the qualifier, Facundo Arguello and in the second round would be Vasek Pospisil or Joao Sousa, the latter who is in the final of Geneva. Nick Kyrgios is the first seed that Murray could face. I think Kyrgios is GREAT for the ATP tour although personally, I don’t warm to him. Murray could also have to get past John Isner in the fourth round which is a pretty brutal draw to the quarters. Although I don’t see Murray as a real title contender, another semi-final appearance is well within his grasp if he can play well.

Nishikori and Berdych will be smiling

The third quarter presents huge opportunities for both Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych.  Berdych has been remarkably consistent in two senses; Berdych is a whopping 32-0 against players outside of the top ten, but is also 0-6 against top 5 players. Berdych has not been able to bring his A-game in the big matches at the ends of tournaments and has lost out in three finals in Doha, Rotterdam and Monte-Carlo. Nishikori powered his way to the title in Barcelona and showed glimpses of that form in Madrid and Rome. Like Berdych but not quite to the same degree, Nishikori has failed to deliver in some of the key clashes. In Madrid, Nishikori played a stunning match to defeat David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, but he couldn’t back it up in the semi-finals as he was beaten in the semis by a superb, Andy Murray. Nishikori and Berdych haven’t played each other since 2012 so i’d like to see them play in the quarters. Nishikori’s draw isn’t a complete walk in the park with the likes of Thomaz Bellucci, Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Bautista Agut and Feliciano Lopez all floating around, but I think Kei could do great things at this tournament…

Fed’s draw: A doddle?

On first view, Roger Federer has a dream of a draw. He’s avoided Djokovic, Murray and Nadal in his half so that’s pretty dishy. However, I think it’s tougher than most are making out. Federer opens against Alejandro Falla and is seeded to meet Ivo Karlovic in the third round. A potential danger appears in the fourth round as Federer could play Gael Monfils, who has beaten him the last two times they have played including in Monte-Carlo earlier this year. Monfils is a different player in front of a home crowd. Furthermore, Federer was dished a supposedly dream draw in Melbourne and that didn’t go so well. Last night, I had Monfils to beat Federer but i’ve got cold feet.

Thoughts on the winner

I still remember after the Roland Garros final last year that I said to myself i’d never go against Nadal again… and here we go again! I was still reserving judgement for Nadal up to Rome, but his results cannot be overlooked. There were significant parallels between his 2014 and 2015 clay court season although I feel he started to get it together in Madrid and Rome last year. I still have a little nagging doubt in my head with Djokovic. Despite being superb throughout much of this year, there have been matches where he has shown fragility. I wonder how much he will feel the pressure and expectation. Where he has prevailed with flying colours this year is his ability to rein it back in when things start going pear-shaped. I’m going for Novak…

QF Predictions: Djokovic d. Nadal, Murray d. Ferrer, Nishikori d. Berdych and Federer d. Wawrinka

Final prediction: Djokovic d. Nishikori

19 thoughts on “French Open 2015: Quick thoughts about the men’s draw

  1. You know, I’ve never been more convinced that draws aren’t completely random than now. Djokovic landing Nadal just seems so maneuvered… and it’s left him with such a TALL order this year. I have him as my winner, and I think he’ll do it in style, but if Nadal makes it hard work then Murray *could* take advantage. In that scenario we’re assuming Ferrer won’t give Murray a tough battle also though…
    I don’t think Federer’s draw will get him through to the finals. I think Monfills could pull yet another upset. In fact Monfils is my dark horse to win the whole thing. I’d rank their chances as Djokovic > Murray > Monfils > Nadal > Nishikori

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      • I’ve seen people who seem to think Federer has this in the bag. No idea what their thought process is. It’s highly unlikely that he could win the most physical Slam of the year at his age, winning seven best of 5 matches over 2 weeks, when he’s only done it ONCE before. His side of the draw looks weaker than the top half, but Nishikori, Wawrinka and Berdych are all world class when on form. And he’s got a lot of the clay courters on his side of the draw also- Verdasco, Lopez, Fognini…

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    • Nadal is always such a force here. I agree that if Djokovic does beat him it’ll be gruelling. I’m finding it weird to come to terms with Nadal not being the favourite here for once, and he’s no doubt still very dangerous for Novak.
      Definitely, Monfils has such a big physicality advantage over Federer and it’s exaggerated by both the surface and his home advantage. Even without him in Fed’s path, I don’t see Roger making it to the final anyway, for the reasons you’ve given.

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  2. Not a fan of Novak, Rafa or Andy so perfect draw for me. All top 8 seeds making QF will be tough but not impossible! For me the AO-RG double is the hardest one & I doubt someone as mentally weak as Djokovic (Both RG finals ended with DF! ) who plays much better in Masters than Slams will win. Nadal only got a Europe clay title last yr as Nishikori got injured in Madrid & he still won French comfortably as you could tell nobody truly believed they could beat him. For those reasons I cannot go against my least favourite player & the King of Clay. My predictions are as follows:

    QFs: Nadal d. Djokovic, Murray d. Ferrer, Nishikori d. Berdych and Wawrinka d. Federer
    Final: Nadal d. Nishikori

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    • Well you could argue that Djokovic meeting Nadal in the quarter finals instead of the final could HELP him. Much less pressure on his side (he visibly choked in the final last year and that was the only reason Nadal won, lets not even discuss the 2013 SF). But if you’re saying Rafa is playing at the level he was last year then you’re crazy!

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      • I don’t think he can handle any pressure at all. He’s just benefitting from the fact he’s so much better than everyone else right now. Obviously I know Rafa is not at the same level and I’m loving every bit of it but I cannot see any top players beating him and I don’t think he has anyone in his draw that could take him out early.

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      • With all due respect, he’s shown SINCE last years RG that he CAN handle pressure. He choked in the Wimbledon final and managed to somehow pull it back. He’s won a few titles this year when it seemed like he was going to get upset. And on the flip side he’s won other titles pretty easily, dishing out bagels to top players.
        The losses in Slam finals in 2012/13 seemed like a slump that he’s done with now.

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  3. Andrew I couldnt agree with you more, there have been so many occasions where everyone says Nole wont come through, but his mental toughness to win the BIG games ,let alone matches has improved vastly . I think he will take his maiden RG this year and getting Nadal in a 1/4 final is even better.

    I do think Roger will get to the 1/4s but im backing Nishikori and Murray to get further this time around at RG!!!

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    • His serve is becoming less of a liability in times of pressure. He still throws in the odd untimely double fault on break points and in tiebreakers, but he serves aces on them now too.

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    • I just do NOT see Federer winning. Do you not realise that he’s in his mid 30s and hasn’t won a Slam in just under three years?! He got through Wimbledon 14 with a lightweight draw but his game is suited to grass and he wasn’t challenged physically. What are the chances he’ll better that result here, at his least favourite slam, on his least favourite surface?

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      • Absolutely agree. I think – if they meet – Monfils will win. Fed still has magic but he is old and he has never been great in Rolland Garros. The only reason why he has the 2009 slam is Söderling winning against Nadal. Which is totally fine as I think he deserved the career slam as much as Nadal deserved it and as much as Djokivic deserves it (now). However, it would be more than tragic for Djokovic failing this year when he probably has his best chance ever. IDK why but I have a feeling that a “random” player will win and it will neither be Novak nor Rafa nor Fed. You heard it here first 😛

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      • Murphy a few others have said the same. Djokovic has an awful lot of pressure to win this year. It could prove too much for him. Or somebody could have an inspired run like Cilic at the US or Wawrinka at the Aus open

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      • Well not to be a joy kill but actually a match can be pre determined by comparing a players stats, with certain stats proving their “key” to a win, so long as they meet them . I think for Roger to win he would have to do an incredible amount right on a consistent basis and his own previous stats here indicate he has a very little chance of doing that.
        On a related note Djokovics match stats for this year were put alongside those of his from 2011 and there’s a 1-3% variance in every single stat, except points won on the return serve (higher in 2011) and points won on second serve (higher now).

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  4. What do you think about Gilles simon neck injury. Will he have enough to get past poullee? What about klizans wrist injury? Tommy robredo i herd got som!e health issues. Also the WTA is a injury festival. Kerber has a back injury, kuznetsova I don’t know if she recovered yet. Petkovic is definitely injured but is playing a much weaker rogers. Do you think all these players will make at least round two dispute their injury woes? I mean why they even play if they know they are injured to begin with. I’m still backing these injured players because I think they made it seem much worse than it was reported. Its prob minor stuff and they wanted to take time off to focus on French open. Your thoughts?

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    • I think most players this year have only themselves to blame as they should have spent the off season away from competing. And instead they all sign up for the IPTL.

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