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Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova

The French Open is here and just like every year there are major storylines to be told. With key players gone on the women’s tour and old faces returning to form on the men’s side. It looks to be an interesting French Open. Here are three major storylines:

3. Who will emerge on the WTA tour?

The women’s game has never been this wide open. With no Serena, no Sharapova, no Azarenka, there is a huge opportunity for anyone willing to take it. So far on clay, Romanian Simona Halep has edged forward with her consistent results in Madrid and Rome. The only problem is that Halep struggles in the biggest moments. Although Halep is a French Open finalist, it will take some consistent solid results in the opening rounds to convince people she should be taken seriously. 

Another player worth noting is defending champion Garbine Muguruza. Garbine played some brilliant tennis in last year’s French Open, doing something very players can say. That is defeating Serena Williams in a grand slam final and getting it done in straight sets. The only issue is that Muguruza hasn’t shown that level of tennis since last year. Muguruza did show some signs that her game is still there with a deep run in Rome but the jury is still out. The French Open is usually where Garbine plays best but it is hard to consider her a safe bet. 

There are other women who could end up holding the trophy. Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova is once again playing great tennis and she is always a threat on the red clay. Former finalist Samantha Stosur also seems to come alive this time of year and can win it all. Though clay is not her best surface, Venus Williams should be paid attention to. Venus was a surprise finalist at the Aussie Open and Venus’s results have been very consistent. 

2. How will Murray and Djokovic perform?

Last season Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray dominated the year. Novak Djokovic was on fire the first half of last season winning all the major titles. Murray caught fire the second of the season winning Wimbledon, Olympic gold and Master’s 1000 tournaments. This season however both have underperformed. Whereas finals were the norm for Murray and Djokovic last year, so far, this year both have struggled to make the quarterfinals of tournaments. 

There are various reasons for this dip. For Murray, last season was exhausting, with him playing in numerous tournaments to close the year to get that number one ranking. It appears that Murray started the year with low energy, leading to his early exits. Injuries also is a factor in Murray’s lack of results. But these injuries can be connected to the wear and tear from last season. Murray must defend a lot of points at this year’s French Open, being that he made last year’s final. The saving grace for Murray is that the French Open is a best of five sets and it will be hard for most players to consistently keep up play that long to defeat Andy. 

As for Djokovic’s struggles it is a little more complicated. Novak’s struggles go back to after he won the French Open last year. Up until last season the French Open was the only grand slam Novak had yet to win. Many in the tennis community believed that once Djokovic won the French, he lost a little bit of his drive and edge.  That was seen in his struggle to be win titles for the second part of last year. Novak is on a bit of a downward spiral this year. So much so that he decided to clean house and fire his entire coaching team. 

Despite his struggles there is a glimmer of hope. Novak could make the Rome Finals last week. Although he lost to next generation sensation Alexander Zverev (something that would never have happened the past couple of seasons), he did beat some quality players on his way to the finals. So, if Novak can build off Rome he will have a chance.

1. Will Rafa win his tenth French Open?

Two players have dominated the season so far. Roger Federer on hardcourt and Rafael Nadal on clay. Rafa is playing the best he has played in a long time and the results showed it. Rafa won three straight clay tournaments with two of them being Master’s 1000 tournaments. On route to those titles he defeated quality opponents such as David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and his longtime nemesis Novak Djokovic. 

It had been years since Rafa was able to take a set off Novak, let alone a win. That win was a real confidence booster for Nadal. Rafa’s uncle, Toni Nadal said on the win to L-Equipe, “We just pulled a damned thorn out of our foot.” Suffice to say Uncle Toni knows the importance of Rafa beating Djokovic and the implications it has on his future say. 

It is also worth noting that the one person who has given Rafa trouble, Roger Federer decided to skip the French, to prepare for the grass. Although Rafa would’ve been the heavy favorite against Roger if he did play, it only increases the chances of a Rafa winning his tenth French Open. Rafa is the king of clay and if he is playing his best tennis it will hard for anybody to beat him. 

As usual the French Open will be very intriguing. Though Nadal is the heavy favorite on the men’s side, anything can happen. The women’s side is wide open and anyone can literally win. The only way to know is to watch. 

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Ricardo is the lead Tennis Analyst here at
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