French Open Preview 2018

HERE we are again. That time of year when we ask ‘is this the year someone dethrones the King of Clay?’. And then everyone fails miserably. Rafael Nadal will once again be the man to stop at Roland Garros, entering this year’s French Open in awesome form as he tries to claim his 11th Grand Slam title on clay. The women’s bracket is also a headliner with Serena Williams’ return to her job in Pari a controversial one after she failed to demand a top 32 seed, leaving the tennis community in an uproar. We will see first hand just what the new mother can do. The 2018 French Open isn’t just about Rafa and Serena though…

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Ladies Bracket

YET again a women’s Grand Slam event is considered wide-open. There are plenty of contenders who have paved a path to glory before, only to then lack the consistency to repeat their title run. Favourites to become the women’s champion include Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza, Carolina Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber. Should I keep going? And of course, there is the return of the G.O.A.T Serena Williams, who will take part in a major for the first time in 16 months since giving birth to her daughter. Translation, you have about the same chance predicting a winner in the bracket as you do winning the lotto.

Dark Horse – Serena Williams
THE biggest enigma of the 2018 tournament is Serena Williams. On one hand, she is ranked in the 400’s but has the talents and power necessary to storm to a championship if she shakes off the rust. On the flip side, she is a new mom at 36 and just attended the Royal Wedding where she schooled everyone in beer pong. With just four games to her name this year, is it worth going hell for leather right away? I’m predicting an admirable third round exit, but her 24th Grand Slam singles W wouldn’t surprise me either.

Bust – Sloane Stephens
SINCE winning the US Open to close out last season, Stephens hasn’t had the best of runs. With the exception of her win in Miami, she hasn’t defeated an opponent ranked inside the top-20 since her triumph at Flushing Meadows. My guess is she won’t magically cure all her worries and instead will bow out in round two.

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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
FROM an Australian perspective there isn’t a ton of hope that anyone can bring a women’s singles title home. Ash Barty faces a daunting second-round matchup with Serena and Sam Stosur doesn’t seem set for a long stay either. Our only other seeded lass, Daria Gavrilova, could go on a run with some big wins recently over big name players. However, she is yet to make it out of the second-round in a major not held in Australia.

Final – Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina
THE fourth time will be the charm for Halep, who has experienced heartbreak three times on tennis’ biggest stage. That included a stunning loss to Jelena Ostapenko on this same court 12 months prior. She’s held the world No. 1 ranking since late February and she will finally prove she deserves that crown in a few weeks time.


Men’s Bracket

THE French Open is unlike any other tennis Grand Slam from a men’s perspective. I mean what can you say about Rafael Nadal’s dominance on clay that hasn’t already been said? He is an absurd 79-2 at Rolland Garros and has won the tournament 10 times in 13 tries. Any concerns over his age have been squashed too with a 19-1 record on clay so far this season. Dominic Thiem, the man who gave Nadal that one L will fancy his chances along with a reborn Novak Djokovic, big-hitting Juan Martin del Potro and the second-seeded Alexander Zverev. With big names missing from the field like Roger Federer and Andy Murray, it’s time for next gen’s stars to try and take down Goliath.

Dark Horse – Stefanos Tsitsipas
THE favourite pick by everyone to go from zero to hero in the next fortnight. Despite racking up just three Grand Slam matches for his career, the Greek teenager has the makeup of a potential future star. Tsitsipas doesn’t turn 20 until August but that didn’t stop him from chalking up wins over Thiem, Kevin Anderson and another young gun in Dennis Shapovalov recently. The future is now.

Bust – Sam Querrey
CLAY courts aren’t Sam Querrey’s best friend. The 12th seed owns a 4-11 record at Roland Garros and has made the third round just once in 11 appearances. He faces a tough first-round matchup with another sleeper in Frances Tiafoe who is eager for a memorable run of his own. With no wins on clay to his name this season, I don’t think Querrey will find his first one in Paris.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
AS I am writing this preview a handful of games are already underway. I haven’t been looking (scout’s honour), but when I googled Nick Kyrgios’ name to get his recent stretch of games, reports surfaced that he has withdrawn from Rolland Garros. He was scheduled to play our other Aussie hope Bernard Tomic in what would have been a memorable match. Instead, we have been robbed of our best title chance and Bernie will meet his maker in the coming days. Bummer.

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Final – Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem
THERE are plenty of admirable challengers for Nadal, who we have to remember turns 32 next week. That being said, if you got the field of 127 and I had Nadal I’d be fine with my chances of winning. Clay Rafa is just another beast and there isn’t anyone who can go toe-to-toe with him on this surface. He will become the first man or woman ever to win a Grand Slam event 11 times if he prevails this time around. My advice is to sit back and enjoy.


Peace ✌

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