Second tennis Grand Slam of the year gets underway on Sunday at Roland Garros in Paris.French Open was played in September last year due to Covid-19 pandemic. This year also, it was postponed by a week amid lockdown restrictions in France.
French Open this year will see play on night sessions in the second week as a result it will become third Grand Slam to hold night sessions apart from Australian Open and US Open.Also 5000 spectators will be allowed to watch finals on June 12 and 13 inside Court Phillippe Chatrier.
Let’s have a look at men’s singles draw.
Big Three in same half
For the first time ever,Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are placed in the same-top half of the draw at a major.World no.1 Novak Djokovic is the top seed and faces Tennys Sandgren in his opener. Serbian looks on course for semifinals without much difficulty as seeds in his quarter include Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz, David Goffin and Matteo Berrettini all of whom don’t look to have weapons to stop Nole.Roger Federer has already said winning French Open is not on his mind.Swiss great faces Dennis Istomin first up.He is expected to meet former US Open champion Marin Cilic next.Not having more matches under his belt coming into tournament such as French Open,it looks herculean task for 39 year old Fed-Ex to reach quarterfinals where top seed Djokovic will wait.As far as 13 time French Open champion Nadal is concerned,4th round clash against teenager Jannik Sinner could be tricky.Last year in quarterfinals at Rolland Garros Sinner gave him some fight before going down.King of Clay could meet seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals.Rublev surprised Nadal at Monte Carlo Masters on clay with a three sets win last month.
Bottom half of the draw features Next-Gen stars including US Open champion Alexander Zverev and two time French Open finallist Dominic Thiem.Two could meet in the quarterfinals in Paris this season in a rematch of their epic US Open final.However Austrian Thiem is not in his best form on clay this year and yet to play more matches after skipping most part of the season.On the other hand,Alexander Zverev is in top form after winning Madrid Masters where he eased past Nadal in the last eight.5th seed Stephanos Tsistipas has a dream draw which could see him reach semifinals without any hurdle.Greek won Monte Carlo Masters and pushed Nadal to limits in Barcelona Open.Second seed Daniil Medvedev already mentioned about his dislikes on the red dirt.
So we could have Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal in one semifinal and Alexander Zverev vs Stephanos Tsistipas playing in other semis.
As far as head to head between Nadal and Djokovic goes,Serbian just edges Nadal 29-28.However on clay,Nadal leads 19-7, also at French Open Nadal is way ahead of him at 7-1.In majors,Nadal leads 10-6 over his nemesis.Hence Nadal can once again get over Djokovic. Other semifinal may prove to be long physical battle as both Zverev and Tsistipas are playing their best tennis on clay this season.Tstisipas leads German 5-2 with most of those matches coming on hard courts.Fiery Tsistipas may just get the better of Zverev in the last four and will be hungry to reach his first ever major final.
Rafael Nadal vs Stephanos Tsistipas
If it happens, it will be dream final for both Nadal and Tsistipas come June 13.Rafael Nadal has won staggering 92% of his matches on clay. With 62 clay court titles and 88 overall, it will be difficult to stop Nadal from winning again in Paris. History beckons Nadal as he can win an unprecedented 14th French Open title. But more significantly, he will go past Roger Federer in terms of most Grand Slam titles with 21.That will see warrior Nadal on top of tennis world and may end the debate on GOAT.
By Shailesh Padhye