French Open Preview: What to Expect at Roland Garros
The French Open starts tomorrow and the biggest story is the return of Rafael Nadal. Clay is his strongest turf, but will he be able to rebound from his injury? Will Serena Williams carry over her hot streak? Will American wonder Sloane Stephens repeat her great performance from the Australian Open?
1. Nadal Will Win the French Open
There is a reason why when people think of clay courts Nadal comes to mind. He is the absolute best on it. He has seven French Open titles and could very well win his eighth. His record is 52-1! Despite being the favorite he is ranked #3 because he missed seven months and the last two major tournaments because of two bad knees. However, he has played his best and showed he is still a force on the court. So far in 2013 he has won six tournaments and beat Roger Federer in one.
2. Serena Williams Is Back and Better Than Ever!
Déjà vu for Serena. Last year she went into the French Open strong only to lose in the first round. This year? Not a chance. She has a 24-game winning streak and is only looking forward. While she gets better her competition is slowing down. She will easily slide into the fourth round before she plays a ranked player. The other good players will play each other before getting to her, weeding out her competition. It is her title to lose, and she is her biggest enemy.
3. The Talented Sloane Stephens
I am glad I am not the only one who thinks eyes should stay on her. Jon Wertheim at Sports Illustrated named her as the woman player to watch. She reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open after defeating Serena Williams and since has cooled down. But fans should not forget she made the quarterfinals last year at the French Open. America is down and out in the tennis world (besides the Williams sisters) and desperately needs a new star. Hopefully Stephens can prove she is the real thing.
4. Will Andy Murray’s Absence Make A Difference?
Andy Murray had to withdraw from the Italian Open because of his back, which made many think he would pull out of the French Open. Will it make a difference without him in the running? No. Nadal has the French Open and only he could lose it. Clay is Murray’s weakness and he has never made a final in France. He prefers grass and with that season coming up next it is wise to sit out this tournament. It is disappointing not having the second best player in the world at a Grand Slam.
5. DO NOT Count Out Maria Sharapova
She is the defending champion. Granted, Williams owns the matches against Sharapova, but do not forget Williams went in as the favorite at last year’s French Open and she lost in the first round. She was the favorite in January’s Australian Open, but was eliminated by Sloane Stepens. Sharapova has something to prove and should not be taken lightly.