The 2014 Roland Garros officially begins on Sunday, May 25! Here are a few storylines worth following during the clay tournament.
1. Novak Djokovic Wants the French Open
Djokovic needs a French Open win to complete the Grand Slam sweep–he was so close in 2012 and 2013. This could finally be the year he lifts the trophy. His draw is not easy. He has the potential to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round and Roger Federer in the semifinals. If he advances to the final he could play the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the finals and who could forget their epic semifinal match last year? It was better than the men’s and women’s final combined! Djokovic beat Nadal in Rome last week in three straight sets and won the last four of their matchups.
Djokovic donated his winnings to flood relief in his native Serbia. The country is suffering from devastating floods and he has made many pleas with people to help as much as possible. If he wins it will be emotional, but the floods will make the emotions flood even more so.
2. Rafael Nadal’s Semi-Easy Draw, But Lousy Clay Record
Speaking of Nadal, it is easy to pick him in any clay tournament, but 2014 has not been a good year for him. He has three clay losses and only won the Madrid Open after his opponent retired in the third set and did not look like himself during the final against Djokovic in Rome.
However, it would be stupid and silly not to consider Nadal as a favorite to win the French Open. He is 59-1 in Paris and won a record eight titles at Roland Garros.
3. Roger Federer
Everyone could hear a huge sigh of relief from Roland Garros after Federer’s wife Mirka gave birth to their second set of twins on May 5. Federer is a family man (he melts any time a reporter asks about his kids and his family is always on the sidelines to support him). He said he would miss any tournament so he could be with Mirka. He withdrew from the Madrid Open, but played in Rome. However! Who could forget 2009? His wife was pregnant with their twin daughters in 2009 and Federer finally won the French Open. Could lightning strike twice?
4. Can anyone stop Serena Williams?
No. Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the tournament on May 18 due to a foot injury, which immediately propelled Williams to the front. However, her draw is not that easy. The most notable name in her way? Sabine Lisicki, the woman who brought Williams down at Wimbledon. There is no doubt the loss affected Williams and she is her own enemy. If she allows the loss to affect her at Roland Garros it will. But Williams could also meet her sister in the third round and her biggest opponent Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinal.
Yet, Sharapova has not beaten Williams on clay and lost their last 15 matchups dating back to 2005.
5. Li Na and Stanlias Wawrinka
Na won the Australian Open and currently ranks #2. She wants to reach #1 and Williams has shown she is not untouchable. If Williams gets inside her own head, Na could very well win the French Open and overtake Williams at #1.
Wawrinka probably will not be much of a threat. He won the Australian Open, but has not been on top of his game since. Yes, he won in Monte Carlo, but lost early in Madrid and Rome. Even though he is #3, I do not see Wawrinka having any impact at Roland Garros.
My prediction? Djokovic and Williams will win the 2014 Roland Garros French Open.