French Open Predictions

Feb 2, 2011

After the Australian Open has finished, what can we learn to carry forward to French Open? Are there any early predictions that can be made?

The biggest shift from the Australian Open to Rolland Garros is, of course, the move from hard court to clay. Playing on clay requires a different kind of player, and few make a smooth transition from one surface to the other  (even Roger and Rafa have found difficulties in moving between the two). Spanish players are particularly good at the clay, with European courts having a high number of courts of this surface for the young players to grow up on.

So, it’s a no-brainer that Rafa will be transferring well to the clay. That is, if he has time to fully recover from his leg injuries. The current estimates for the time it will take is about 10 days, but with Rafa and his propensity for dodgy knees, who knows if this might become a more long-term problem. Nadal is staying tight-lipped about the injury, which hopefully is a good sign that it is just a quick annoyance that he does not want to dwell on.

So, if Nadal is back to fighting form then he will definitely be a contender. What about the winner of the slam Rafa missed out on on Sunday? Novak Djokovic doesn’t typically do well on the clay, although he has been getting better and better year by year. And, after proving that he has on a pretty impressive streak of form, maybe this will be the year that he really threatens on the clay.

Of course, there are the host of other players that come into their own on the clay. Robin Soderling shook the top players by defeating Roger Federer in the quarter finals of the French Open 2010 and beating Rafael Nadal en route to a French Open in 2009. With two impressive years behind him at Rolland Garros, can Soderling take that final step towards having the title for himself? It greatly depends on the draw; if Soderling comes up against Roger or Rafa early enough then he is a real threat. But come to the finals, and they come into a league of their own, and Soderling just hasn’t quite been able to get up their himself.

Tomas Berdych is another player who found a new burst of form at the French Open in recent years. He made it to the semi finals last year after beating Andy Murray in the fourth round, proving his worth on the clay by comprehensively beating the Brit to the semi final position. He went a step further in Wimbledon, where he reached the final. He will certainly be a contender after making it to the quarter finals at the Australian Open, and will undoubtedly be looking to improve on last year’s excellent performances.

As for Roger? Who knows any more. I’m certainly not dismissing Roger as a player who is too volatile to predict, after all this is Roger and he runs as timely as a watch from his home country. But, maybe, times are changing. Federer might be feeling the strain of competing players and potentially even age. It’s not that I think he will go out in the first round. But will he be in the final? Two or three years ago no-one would have thought to ask that question, else be pointed out as a mad man. But now, well, it’s not an impossibility…

-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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