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For those who don’t know, Roland Garros (The French Open) will take place between 25th May and 6th June in Paris this year, and is the only grand slam that is held on clay courts. Over the years, the tournament has witnessed a lot of shocks and exciting moments for tennis fans all over the world. The 2014 tournament is lining up to be another fantastic spectacle, but who’s in line to claim this year’s prize?
Well, Rafael Nadal is undeniably the greatest clay player the world has ever seen and has won the French Open title eight times, a tournament record. He is also in very good form at the moment, after beating Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Rome Open. So can anyone stop him from winning his ninth trophy in Paris this year? It seems it’s going to be very difficult to stop the Spaniard on clay.
Roger Federer, one of the all-time greats, has always had somewhat of a struggle to show his class on clay over the years and he’s only managed to win the French Open once in 2009. Even without his modest record on clay, he has clearly not been in top form during the last two years, recently suffering an early exit in the Rome Open.
Another major challenge for Nadal is Novak Djokovic, the current No.2 player in the world. Djokovic will be fired up for Roland Garros, as the French Open is the only grand slam missing from his cabinet. He is desperate to win the title, but can he do it? He has performed amazingly since climbing to the top of the world rankings in 2011 but like most, struggles to challenge Nadal on clay. His head to head record against Nadal on the surface is a rather disappointing 3-13.
Despite his dominance, there are other great players on the tour who can shock the world by beating Nadal in Paris. Andy Murray is one of the potential candidates to produce a win, but he is clearly not a clay player and has not yet found top form after his injury. David Ferrer, the runner-up of last year’s French open, is another potential dark horse. He has been performing well on clay, but has never defeated Nadal in a final on the surface. Undeniably, Nadal is the overwhelming favorite to lift the trophy in Paris, providing he steers clear from injury. As long as he stays fit, he the French Open should be his once again.
On the other hand, the women’s game is a little more complicated.
The last six tournaments have been won by six different players. Last year’s champion and the current No.1 player in the world Serena Williams, is the bookies favorite to regain her title again this year. Her services and power are clearly her strong points, at times bullying competitors over the years. Her victory over Sara Errani was very convincing, showing that age is still not a problem for her.
Li Na is one of the potential candidates to stop Serena Williams from lifting the trophy in June. The current world No.2 from China won her second grand slam title earlier this yearin Australia, however she has always struggled to maintain her form throughout her career. She has faced two early exits in the French Open since winning the tournament in 2011, and must build on her earlier success this year to stand a chance.
Maria Sharapova is definitely one to watch in the French Open, as she has competed in the last two finals at Paris, winning one of them. However, her performance has been affected by injuries and clearly, she is not in the form of her early twenties. Her experience however, may just be enough to bring her the title come June.
Similarly, Victoria Azarenka is another player who has been affected by injuries this season. She is not yet the same player as back in 2012 and has never made the women’s single final at the French Open, which may bring some doubt.
Other experienced players including Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic might just sneak under the radar and do well, or the tournament may provide a perfect stage for young talents. The venue has witnessed young players including Steffi Graf and Michael Chang win their first grand slam title and rise onto stardom. This year’s tournament may see the rise of a young talent who could rule the tennis world for years to come.