THE second major of the season kicking off this weekend in Paris is shrouded by plenty of uncertainty. Seeing a women’s bracket without Serena Williams’ name in it is a foreign concept leaving the ladies field wide open. In the men’s it’s everyone versus Nadal as the ‘King of Clay’ continues his incredible 2017 season. Let’s take a look at those who could could, should and won’t perform well and crown a champion.

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Ladies Bracket

AS discussed above the birth of Williams’ first child will sideline her for the French Open and likely for the rest of the 2017 season. Along with her omission, household names like Maria Sharipova and Victoria Azarenka are missing, both of whom are former winners at Roland Garros and have served time as world number one. Current world No. 1 Angelique Kerber will look to tighten her grip on the coveted ranking with the likes of Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and defending champion Garbine Muguruza snapping at her heels. You could almost pull any name from the top ten out of hat to declare the winner so expect plenty of upsets and fireworks.

French Open Preview 1Image from abc.net.au

Dark Horse – Venus Williams
FOR the past 18 months I pencil Genie Bouchard’s name in this bracket, but I am beginning to wonder if she will ever return to her 2014 form. Instead I’m going to bank on Australian Open finalist Venus Williams. With her sister’s shadow absent from Paris, Williams has the potential to claim her first French Open title. She faces a tough prospect in facing Dominika Cibulkova (#6 seed) and then Muguruza (#4 seed) to make it out of her quarter. Remember though, her last name is Williams.

Bust – Angelique Kerber
EVEN though Kerber has started 2017 in ok form, her appearances on clay leave plenty of question marks heading into the French Open. With just three wins from four clay tournaments in the lead up to this Grand Slam it’s unlikely that she features as a challenger for the crown. In a positive note because she lost in round one last year she can gain more ranking points with at least one win. Although….

French Open Preview 2Image from insidethegames.biz

Bold Prediction
WITH an exit in the third round Angelique Kerber fails to defend her #1 ranking with the French Open champ crowned the new number one player in womens tennis.

Final – Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza
LAST year’s defending champion versus the favourite for the title. In a field that’s so ‘wide open’ what a boring prediction. Coming off the Madrid Open title just a few weeks ago Halep deserves the title of tournament favourite, although it’s not by a wide margin. The Romanian is yet to taste success at a major event and I’m predicting this will be her breakthrough moment.

WINNER: SIMONA HALEP

Simona HalepImage from britwatchsports.com

Mens Bracket

ALL signs point to Rafa chalking up his 15th Grand Slam win (and 10th at the French Open) over the next fortnight. The Spaniard has just one loss in the past six weeks on clay and his dominance at this event is no secret. But wait…..here comes the youth movement! I was ready for one of the young guns to break onto the scene in 2016, but it never happened. Names like Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem are fast climbing the rankings, with the two knocking off both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal respectively in the latest tournament. Throw in the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and, oh yeah, the world number one Andy Murray and we have an spectacular fortnight ahead.

Dark Horse – Nick Kyrgios
ANYONE not named Rafael Nadal? All jokes aside a top heavy mens bracket won’t likely see a low seed make a run through the field. If someone is to do it though that someone could be Nick Kygrios. Much like Bouchard in the women’s field time and time again I find myself putting Kyrgios in this spot and he lets me down. I have a strange feeling this will be his best tournament to date though. I also have a strange feeling he will lose in the first round after strangling a chair umpire. Either outcome is highly possible.

French Open Preview 4Image from newseleven.in

Bust – Andy Murray
TOUGH sledding for the number one ranked players at Roland Garros this year. After his dominant end to the 2016 season Andy Murray has hardly looked like himself so far in 2017. He departed the Australian Open in the fourth round thanks to Mikhail Zverev and has never exactly looked ‘world beating’ on clay. Look away Brit fans.

Bold Prediction
I’ll make two. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils make the quarterfinals to set up an all France affair for the home fans and Rafa loses his semifinal at the hands of whoever wins the match of the tournament between Djokovic and Thiem in the quarters.

French Open Preview 5Image from zimbio.com

Final – Novak Djokovic vs. Stan Wawrinka
STAN Wawrinka’s 16-8 win-loss record and overall clay success this season to date might suggest he won’t be making a deep run. I have faith in the forgotten man though, who has tasted success at this event before. If it were on any other surface then a final between these two would see Novak claiming another Grand Slam win. The bad news for Djokovic is it’s on clay where he has never excelled with just one of his 12 titles coming on this surface. Head to head Djokovic dominates with a 19-5 edges over Wawrinka, but Stan the Man can chalk up his 6th with in their rivalry here and hoist the trophy.

WINNER: STAN WAWRINKA

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