Already on Sunday, the matches of the French Open will start in Paris, and we talk about the main plots of the second “Slam” season, make predictions for the French Open, offer an analysis of the nets and help place bets on tennis.
Is it lucky Novak Djokovic with a grid, what’s in store Roger Federeris it capable Rafael Nadal take another title, how quickly they lose Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev…
The main plot, of course, will unfold in the first half of the grid. And this is Djokovic and Nadal, who can meet in the semifinals. This year we will definitely have a new final, but will the likely semi-final be as one-sided?
First, let’s figure out how likely this semi-final is. Djokovic’s path: Sandgren, Cuevas, Humbert, Musetti / Goffin, Berrettini, Nadal.
Nadal’s Path: Popyrin, Gasquet, Sonego, Sinner, Karatsev / Shvartsman.
Rafa’s grid is a little more complicated, but it doesn’t make much sense to talk about it at Roland Garros. Nadal, of course, is getting old, but in Paris he invariably finds additional resources, squeezing the maximum out of himself and the local courts. For the Spaniard, everything will be decided in the semifinal match.
Who will be the favorite? We lean towards Novak Djokovic. The fact that he and Rafa will not play in the final clearly plays into the hands of the Serb: it will reduce the pressure and remove the aura of invincibility of the Spaniard, who has never conceded in the Parisian decisive matches.
Last time (it was six years ago) Djokovic closed Nadal before the decisive match – in the quarterfinals, leaving Rafa no chance. Last year, Novak looks squeezed and unable to cope with the pressure (he only freed himself in the third set, but it was too late). This time the pressure will be less.
Novak and Rafa met once in the current clay season – the result was unlikely to please the Serb, but in general everything looked decent. Djokovic held the third clay tournament, at each of which he said that one should not expect him to be in optimal shape before the “Slam”. The suboptimal form was enough for the won set (6/1), the most tight fight in the starting game and a relatively equal game in the decisive one (everything was decided by one mistake, and breaking the leader Rafu to order is not an easy task).
Novak says he has gotten enough practice and is so confident in himself that he may even come to the home tournament the week before the “Helmet”. It is unlikely that Belgrade will show us something important: all the Serb’s rivals are in the area of the hundredth place, but this is a necessary warm-up and, perhaps, a pleasant and motivating title.
Nadal’s matches showed that Rafa is still consistently good, but he can be defeated. And if earlier this needed the best tennis in life, bright strikes and a certain recklessness, but this year Rublev and Zverev just had enough persistently aggressive play without an excessive number of mistakes. Both Djokovic and Nadal approach Roland Garros after thoughtful (but different) preparation, but not in the status of dominators, sweeping away everything in their path. The more interesting it will be. Our bets are 60 to 40 in favor of Novak.
The rest of the plots of the first half
Roger Federer. The Swiss directly says that he plays for the grass season. Five sets will be more of an obstacle than a help. If Djokovic rightly says that he can wear down youth and opponents in a lower rating, then the Swiss still needs to add for such loads.
Swiss mesh: qualifier, Cilic, Fritz, Berrettini / Auger, Djokovic, Nadal.
Can Federer lose to an opponent from qualifying? Yes, it is quite. Which is more likely – this or exit to the fourth circle? It. Are there any chances for the quarterfinals? Not.
Andrey Rublev. The Russian started the season incredibly, but after Monte Carlo he gave up a little. Either fatigue has accumulated, or there are slight problems with motivation, or the opponents have got used to an aggressive style, and the pace of the game in the Tour has generally increased slightly.
Andrey’s grid: Shtruff, Bonzi, Basilashvili, Karatsev / Shvartsman, Nadal, Djokovic. Right now, it seems that Rublev will stop in the fourth round, no matter who he gets there.
Aslan Karatsev. The story is a bit similar to that of Rublev, only a slight decline began later – after Belgrade, where the victory over Djokovic and the fiery final with Berrettini took a lot of energy.
Aslan’s grid: qualifier, Kolshreiber, Schwartzman, Rublev, Nadal, Djokovic. Until Rafa, Diego seems to be the most dangerous opponent, but with powerful punches and fast movement it is quite possible to pass him. Nadal is still in a different league. It is also worth remembering that we have never seen Karatsev in five-set clay matches, and even he is not made of iron.
The second half of the grid brings together the main young tennis players of the Tour: Zverev, Ruud, Gurkach, Tim, Tsitsipas, Opelka and Medvedev.
Let’s start, of course, with Daniil Medvedev and our joy – the starting match against Bagel. It seems that we will have a lot of conversations with ourselves, transcripts of these conversations and, probably, hysterics. It will be fun, but not the fact that we will see quality tennis.
And so Medvedev spent three clay matches, lost two of them (the only victory was over Fokina, who was 49th in the rating). Daniil lost to strong dirt player Garin (1/6 in the last set) and aggressive Karatsev (in two sets, no chances). It seems that the secret of defeating Medvedev on the ground is clear – to take Danya out of his comfort zone. And this is surprisingly easy for opponents: it is enough either to play consistently, keeping the balls in the court, or to attack, forcing Medvedev to run and execute risky shots that do not pass.
Medvedev’s grid: Bagel, Paul, Opelka, Garin, Tsitsipas, Zverev. The chances in the first match are 50 to 50. With each next match, they will decrease by about 10. Bagel can attack, Paul can hold the ball, Opelka can attack very well, Garin showed everything, Tsitsipa is good on the ground, it is unrealistic to reach Zverev …
And Stefanos will be the favorite of this quarter. His grid: Chardy, Korda, Krajinovich, Carreno-Busta, Garin, Zverev. The matches with Carrejo-Busta and Garin should be tough, but Tsitsipas is stronger.
In the third quarter, there are three main objects of attention: Zverev, Ruud and Tim. Tim and Ruud can meet in the fourth round, and this time we will estimate the power ratio as 65 to 35 in favor of the Norwegian. A good tournament in Madrid alone is not enough to qualify as a contender for the Slam title.
Well, the main favorite is Alexander Zverev… We will be happy to see him in the final and hope that he will show more stable tennis than in the US Open final.
Likely semi-finals: Djokovic – Nadal, Zverev – Tsitsipas.