For starters, the Federerless draw is a terrible reminder that life is short, and that we’re all going to die.
Like most big sporting events, picking grand upsets seems more a move to draw attention to oneself. This tournament should more or less play-out according to the seedings; but, because it’s clay and some upsets are always in the mix, general, we have a little wiggle-room, and thus the suspense of predictions.
Let’s start at the top. Djokovic has an ideal draw on paper. Seriously. Tomic and/or Agut? Roberto was with Novak through the first four games in Madrid, but really there appears to be no real threat until we reach the QF and even that appears to be against the likes of Berdych or Ferrer. Holy cow. So, the good news is Novak got his quarter served just right. However, this just makes it that MUCH more imperative that he arrives to the SF fresh and ready for war in a most likely brutal final four at the French!
Some names to watch in this top quarter: Nobody really. You know I will have eyes on the young American Fritz who has an interesting match-up with Coric, but given Fritz’s tennis since that little South American success he had early in the year, he’s been the invisible young man. I don’t expect much at all here but could be interesting to watch. Coric doesn’t make the meter move, really either.
The other half of the quarter sees dirt ballers Monaco (who beat Stan in Rome R16 and then retired), and Cuevas along with Pospisil and Berdych, who face-off in R1 (the Canadian is 2-0 vs. the Czech, I’m pretty sure), youngsters Halys and Chung and, of course, Ferrer.
Who you got facing Djokovic in the QF? That’s this quarter’s intrigue.
So, we anticipate a Nadal v Djokovic SF. You know I’ll complicate this a bit, especially given Rafa’s draw. Granted, he’s on sacred ground here and should build enough momentum early to make a run for La Decima. I suspect that was the thinking of the tournament organizers. One might say, “Nadal got the toughest draw!” That’s how a Nadal lover or Nadal hater might prognosticate, carelessly. Nadal will get Fognini early, a win that should spark the bull’s roaring stampede to the SF. He has an opportunity to pick-up more steam via a match with Thiem or Zverev (Thiem almost certainly), and then with the likes of Sousa, Goffin, or Tsonga in that QF.
The script probably reads Nadal survives and arrives in the SF full of momentum and playing very well, feeling confident, the crowd aroused, etc. But if he’s off his form at all, which has been a reality, there are players that could give him more than he’s willing to take at this point. Thiem or Zverev will have a Nice trophy when they arrive in Paris this weekend, the two playing in that F tomorrow. Every time I look up Zverev is playing, and playing well. My suspicion is he’ll be a bit hungover in Paris, but what do I know. Nadal v Fognini and Nadal v Thiem (or Zverev for that matter) could be must watch early round matches.
But again don’t be fooled. This draw gives Nadal the real opportunity to play into some real positive and confident form. Might be the irony of the top half of this tournament’s draw: Djokovic is untested and slow-to-go while Nadal is going on all cylinders.
PS – would love to see Tsonga make that QF. That could be a classic: Tsonga v Nadal. 🙂
Stan and Milos stand-out here in the next quarter, top of the bottom half, yet no one would be surprised if either was taken-out earlier than expected. Cilic is in this quarter but I’m not a believer and, of course, Stan and Cilic face-off in the Geneva final tomorrow. Indeed, two pretty interesting finals in those last two RG preps (Nice and Geneva).
The big question seems to be which Stan is arriving in Paris. Important to note he wasn’t doing much last year at this time, so the mystery is for real and intriguing. A win over Cilic tomorrow shouldn’t hurt. This appears to be an open door sort of quarter for the Swiss defending champ. He should hold serve and manage this group. But we never know.
Raonic isn’t on his best surface though he made the FO QF in 2014. He’s a player for sure. Again, beyond Stan and Milos, this is a pretty tasteless quarter. Sock, Cilic, Pouille, Schwartzman (hey, it’s clay), Troicki, Chardy. . .Dimitrov. . .?
Fair to say this is pretty wide-open, meaning Stan should win Geneva and establish control of this quarter by the end of next week. Stanimal in the SF could be fucking brilliant!
Lastly, the Murray quarter. We all know the tennis establishment has this guy maybe winning the FO, at least coming-in as a legit favorite.
At the same time, Nishikori and Kyrgios will probably not fade too easily. Wouldn’t this be quite a spectacle to see Kyrgios make a run, emerge as that top-10 guy we’ve been waiting on. He’s the wild card. He and Kei will have to decide who gets Murray in that bottom half of the quarter. Anyone else would be a huge upset, so no need to even go there.
Who has that brutal sequence that people want to call Djokovic’s draw last year? Djokovic had a struggling Nadal in the QF, then Murray, whom he fucked around with, up 2 and 2 before having to finish the following day. Then Stanimal. Ok. Brutal. I’ll concede.
Nadal looks to have a potentially tough sequence that goes something like: Fognini, Thiem, Tsonga, Djokovic. . . Murray.
Murray’s looks pretty tough if Stan wakes-up. Still, doesn’t see much until the winner of Kyrgios/Nishikori, but that could be tough, then Stan and then the winner of (potentially) Nadal v Djokovic.
I think a lot of this tournament depends on who the other player or two who shows-up and wreaks havoc in the draw, especially late.
Right now we know Novak, Nadal and Murray are pretty much locks to go deep. But who is going to make Roland Garros 2016 one of those unexpected classics like Stan last year? With Nadal on the descent, the tourney opens-up. Novak doesn’t seem to have separated on the clay. Does Stan win tomorrow and come rolling into his hospitable draw, find even better form and go large trying to repeat? Does Kyrgios beat Nishikori and make that QF with Murray a classic, a potential Aussie panty raid on the favored Scot?
Again, it’s clay so the field is expanded, somewhat. We know this. Who defines the expansion? Or is it just a Novak/Rafa/Andy ménage à trois?
In the end, this is clearly Novak’s to lose; anything else is the Serb’s absolute worst nightmare.