I was literally preparing a few notes for a post on the Swiss second-string, in fact looking at his 2015 pre-Roland Garros results to see any kind of pattern that might lift our hopes for his 2018 French Open campaign.
We have a pretty good indicator of Stan’s chances against Rafa in Paris this year based on last year’s final.
And on that note, I think it’s fair to say that Rafa, despite some people saying he’s in his best form ever in 2018, is not in as good of form this year as last.
He had an Australian Open final under his belt, along with better health though we could, I guess, assume that taking-off the 2018 Sunshine Double has enabled him to find better health.
I just don’t see him quite as dominant as last year. If he runs through the French, drops a mere 30 or 40 games total, no sets, ruins everyone’s Paris spring, well, then I’m wrong and it won’t be the first or the last time.
But he’s, in my view, not quite as impenetrable this year. For a variety of reasons.
He’s dominated this post, of course. I was talking about Wawrinka. I watched Stan dispatch Donaldson in Geneva a day ago, certainly hoping to find some form. He hit the young American off the court more or less, but did struggle with some service games. Looked a little rough.
Still, glimpses of the Stanimal, the LARGE serve and finishing ground strokes from both sides made me smile.
Then Fucksovich, or Fucksalot (I know that’s not his name) destroyed him. Ho hum.
Then again, in 2015, the year Stan went berserk at Roland Garros, he was very mediocre coming in. He wasn’t coming-off injury, however, so I think he needs the matches at this point, which he simply doesn’t have.
All this to say, watching Stan roll-out the beat-downs, whom I have pretty much written-off — extent of his injury, break with Norman, age, motivation, etc. — would be such a brilliant addition to the proceedings I can’t even begin. . .
But let’s take a look, granted a quick one, at this draw:
2018 French Open Draw
A Nadal v Zverev final might be an epic or a 2 2 3 snoozer as the Spanish great lifts his 17th major. Ha ha. Smell that one all you tennis fans. Remember how big that number used to be next to Federer’s name? Now it’s on Nadal’s CV and he’s clearly separating himself from that pack (Sampras, Djokovic). Wow.
But if Zverev were to advance, that could be (stars aligned) an interesting tilt.
Nadal has the following road to the final:
His first three matches consist of these foes: Dolgopolov for sure and then Sousa/Pella, Jaziri/Youzhny and Seppi or Gasquet. Some intrigue but pretty shallow at best. Guys like Jaziri and Gasquet can play the clay, but there’s really no tennis testicles to speak of here, so Nadal simply flies into the R16 having dropped, ready for it: 18 games?
Hopefully there’s more drama, but for that you must wait and pray.
His R16 is against Shapovalov or Sock though either one of them could be upset, so we’re not going to do much with this either. Sure, Denis in a boost of maturation and form could be fun to watch, but he’s not the guy to take three sets from the Spaniard. I think Sock has given-up on singles, actually; don’t expect much there (prove me wrong, Jack).
The QF there yields Nadal v Schwartzman or Coric hopefully. The rest of that bracket is forgettable. Nadal’s #1 so what do you expect. A Diego or Borna in a frenzy could be fun, but, again, wake me when we have some real character argument to challenge the rampant Rafa.
The first SF at the 2018 French Open boils-down to this (brace yourself):
Nadal v Cilic/Fognini/Edmund/Del Potro
Sure one of the other several players in that second quarter could survive, but these are the boys with form or big enough balls. The first three there have some decent form, but obviously Edmund still wets the diaper, so to speak, and Cilic may just be too hazardous out there on the crumbling clay. Fognini may be tough, but enough to threaten Nadal at a Roland Garros SF? No. Del Potro appears, from his play in Rome, to be nursing a bit of an injury. Not a good sign.
But I’m afraid that’s all you have in the top half. Nadal is finals bound but for a freak accident.
In the bottom half, you have:
Zverev with some likely challenge early and often from rug rats like Lajovic and Dzumhur, gets a potentially fierce foe in his R16 from a survived Wawrinka or perhaps more likely a . . . Actually, if Wawrinka doesn’t survive, who cares. Zverev has no excuse unless he meets a fledgling Stanimal. Then all bets are off.
Winner there in that bottom should play Thiem in the last QF, but Thiem has his work cut-out. He gets Tsitsipas, potentially, in the second round. Uhg. Thiem should have enough Fuckyou to move through but that’s certainly a potentially tough match.
Nishikori, Paire, and Simon lurk as well, but let us pray (we deserve this, at least): a Zverev and Thiem QF.
The winner there plays the winner of that third quarter: Djokovic.
So. You’re final four:
Nadal v Cilic (or Del Potro on a monster run)
Zverev/Thiem v Djokovic
I am actually happier finishing this post than I was at the beginning.
Talk to you soon!
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