Roland Garros is just days away. With a lot riding for many players heading into the second major of the year, here are some of the big questions still lingering after the European clay court swing.
Should Roger Play?
Roger Federer has described the last few months of his season as “brutal” and with good reason. Though he appeared on the road to recovery after recent knee surgery, Federer picked up a back injury in Madrid. That forced him out of that event and though he did play Rome, he admitted that he was not yet 100%. A second round loss to Dominic Thiem left the Swiss legend with less than ideal preparation heading into Paris.
But should Federer even compete in Paris at all? Only Federer and those close to him know the full details of his health, but it doesn’t seem worth potentially exacerbating any injuries by grinding for two weeks on the slow clay. Federer, though he’d be a top four seed, would likely be a prime candidate for an early upset if he’s not 100%. And does Federer really want to jeopardize his chances at Wimbledon and the Olympics that are not that far away? As they say, it’s his call.
Is This The Return of the “King”?
“The King of Clay” enters Paris seeking a record 10th title. But is Rafael Nadal really playing the kind of tennis that could get him back on the winner’s podium? Signs look encouraging. Nadal did win his ninth Monte Carlo title earlier in the spring. Just recently, he lost to Novak Djokovic in two very close sets in Rome. That performance from Nadal indicated that he was closing the gap over Djokovic’s recent dominance.
But can he do the same again and possibly in best three out of five over Djokovic should they meet again in Paris? One thing that might help Nadal’s chances is if Federer does indeed withdraw, it would bump up Nadal to a top four seed. That would help Nadal avoid Djokovic until at least the semifinals. If Nadal could beat Djokovic en route to winning the title, his tenth Roland Garros win would likely be the sweetest of all for him.
Can Djokovic Finally Win?
Novak Djokovic remains the man to beat in Paris as he seeks his first French Open title. Djokovic enjoyed a solid clay court season by winning in Madrid and reaching the finals in Rome. In both finals he faced off against Andy Murray who is playing better than ever on clay. Even so, and even with Murray winning in Rome, Djokovic is still a huge favorite again. But how will he deal with the pressure of trying to win at last in Paris?
Probably very well. Unless, of course, he runs across another player who decides to have his best day ever such as Stan Wawrinka did in the final last year. That might happen again, but one has to think Djokovic will be more than ready to raise his level even higher to take the final step onto the winner’s podium.
What The Hell is Going On With the WTA?
The clay swing for the women continued the recent trend of unpredictable results and new winners each week. While familiar names raised the trophies in Stuttgart (Angelique Kerber), Madrid (Simona Halep), and Rome (Serena Williams), the ongoing trend of top seeds losing early week after week suggest that the seedings in Paris will be just a mere formality and no indication of future performance.
Williams appeared to restore order to her season by winning her first title of the year in Rome. Or did she? On the one hand, Williams did not face a top ten opponent all week. But Williams did what we always expect her to do when given an opportunity – “She came, she saw, she conquered”. If Williams can continue her strong form, and not get bogged down in the early rounds, then she should once again find herself in the Paris final. As far as who might face her, another surprise finalist, like Lucie Safarova last year, would not be a surprise at all. But with Roland Garros always being the most unpredictable of the majors for the women, two surprise finalists wouldn’t be that big of a “quelle surprise” either.