Saturday, 26 May 2012

ATP French Open: Preview and Predictions

PROJECTED QUARTER-FINAL 1 - Djokovic (1) v Tsonga (5)
Novak Djokovic begins his quest for the career Grand Slam against Potito Starace and will be feeling rather happy at the draw he has been handed.  He is projected to meet Jurgen Melzer in the third round and then either Fernando Verdasco or Andreas Seppi in the fourth round.  I would be astounded if he was to fall before the quarter-finals...

Djokovic is projected to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals; in their most recent encounter, Djokovic won 7-5 6-1 in Rome.  Tsonga's form on the clay has been patchy at best and would indicate that an early exit is on the cards.  He plays Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round and is seeded to meet Viktor Troicki in the third round; however I fancy the Brazilian, Thomasz Bellucci to upset Troicki in the first round and then push Tsonga hard.  If the Frenchman makes the fourth round, he could meet the winner of an interesting third rounder between Gilles Simon and Stanislas Wawrinka.

Highlight first round matches - Seppi v Davydenko, Simon v Harrison, Troicki v Bellucci

Dark Horses - Gilles Simon and Thomasz Bellucci

My QF Prediction - Novak Djokovic v Gilles Simon

Novak Djokovic

PROJECTED QUARTER-FINAL 2 - Federer (3) v Berdych (7)
Roger Federer will open his campaign against Tobias Kamke before a potential second round match with David Nalbandian.  He could then meet Andy Roddick in the third round; however you would be taking a huge risk to bet on Roddick reaching that stage having missed the majority of the clay court season with injury and suffering several losses in the warm-up tournament last week in Dusseldorf.  Federer should not break sweat to the quarter-finals with Radek Stepanek and Feliciano Lopez the highest seeds he could meet in the 4th round.

Things are likely to get much tougher in the quarter-finals for Federer where he could meet the winner of a 4th round showdown between Juan Martin Del Potro and Tomas Berydch.  Del Potro faces Albert Montanes in the first round and may have to get past the big serving Croatian, Marin Cilic in the third round.  Berdych could also have to get past a big server too in the third round in Kevin Anderson; however I expect both to make it to the 4th round.  Berdych and Del Potro last fought out a tense semi-final in Madrid where Berdych prevailed 7-6 7-6...

Highlight first round matches - Mahut v Roddick, Del Potro v Montanes, Llodra v Garcia-Lopez

Dark Horses - Feliciano Lopez and Juan Carlos Ferrero

My QF Prediction - Roger Federer v Juan Martin Del Potro

Roger Federer

PROJECTED QUARTER-FINAL 3 - Ferrer (6) v Murray (4)
David Ferrer has been handed a very favourable draw and will look to build on a 4th round showing last year.  He will play Lukas Lacko in the first round.  The first seed he could meet is Mikhail Youzhny in the third round.  John Isner is a potential 4th round opponent, but his form has been disappointing during the clay court season.  The Spaniard, Marcel Granollers will be a tough test for the American in the third round if they both get that far.

Andy Murray has been struggling with injuries throughout the last month and I cannot see him replicating his semi-final performance from last year.  His first round opponent is Tatsuma Ito and the first seed he could run into is Bernard TomicRichard Gasquet, who defeated him in a three set encounter in Rome, is seeded to meet Murray in the 4th round and it is here where I think he will depart...  

Highlight first round matches - Blake v Youzhny, Dolgopolov v Stakhovsky, Young v Dimitrov

Dark Horses - Marcel Granollers and Richard Gasquet

My QF Prediction - David Ferrer v Richard Gasquet

Highlights from Murray/Gasquet in Rome; they are projected to meet in the 4th round at Roland Garros

PROJECTED QUARTER-FINAL 4 - Tipsarevic (8) v Nadal (2)
Janko Tipsarevic will play the American, Sam Querrey in the first round and faces a number of tough tests if he is to reach the quarter-finals.  In the third round, he could meet Julien Benneteau who is making his return from injury following that horrible fall in Monte-Carlo.  In the 4th round, he should meet the winner of a mouthwatering third round match between Nicolas Almagro and Philipp Kohlschreiber.  The Spaniard, Almagro has been very consistent this year and won the title in Nice this week so I am backing him to rebound after a first round loss at Roland Garros last year.

Rafael Nadal has lost just one match at Roland Garros in his career so it is hard to see him falling before the quarter-finals.  He plays Simone Bolelli in the first round and could meet Florian Mayer in the third round, who he defeated in Rome a week ago.  His 4th round opponent should be a step up with Juan Monaco and Milos Raonic heading for a third round clash.  Monaco has made a quick and spirited return from an injury he picked up in Monte-Carlo.  He managed to take a set off Djokovic in Rome, meanwhile Raonic has shown his promise over the last two months with a win over Andy Murray in Barcelona and coming extremely close to beating Roger Federer on the blue clay of Madrid.

Highlight first round matches - Tipsarevic v Querrey, Kohlschreiber v Ebden, Chela v Baghdatis

Dark Horses - Go Soeda and Juan Monaco

My QF Prediction - Nicolas Almagro v Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Final Prediction - Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal has played some startling tennis throughout this year's clay court season and I have to back him to win another Grand Slam at Roland Garros.  I think he will beat David Ferrer in the semi-finals and then Novak Djokovic in another epic final of 2012.  I really do not think Roger Federer stands a chance this year and although I think he will make another semi-final, I predict Djokovic to exact revenge on him from last year's semi-final defeat.  The early stages of the draw have not thrown up much excitement for me and I think it will not be until the 4th round when the men's draw really kicks into gear...

ATP Full Predictions to be posted soon...

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