French Open 2015 The Favorites Novak Djokovic Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
There are only three real favorites for the French Open 2015 title. One of them has won it nine times and suffered one defeat at the event, one of them has won one title and been runner up four times, and the other is putting together one of the greatest ever seasons and is a two time runner up. The Tennis Review looks at the chances of those three players- Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Novak Djokovic, Runner up 2012, 2014.
Novak Djokovic goes into Roland Garros as the clear favorite for the first time in his career. That status has been earned on the back of a record-breaking start to the season. The world No.1 has won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome, and has suffered just two defeats (Doha to Karlovic, Dubai to Federer)
Djokovic has been one of the favorites at Roland Garros before (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), but has shared that status with, or been a second favorite to, Nadal, who has beaten him the past three years in Paris.
This year, though, Nadal goes into the event without a European Clay court title and with his lowest ranking (7) for ten years, and Djokovic goes into it with two European Clay court titles, and the ones with the most similar conditions to Roland Garros, as well as holding the world No.1 ranking with a 4, 610 point lead over world No. 2 Federer.
Djokovic has also earned his status as a favorite at Roland Garros with two runner up finishes, and four semi-finals, losing five of those matches to Nadal and one to Federer.
Djokovic has had his chances, too, in those losses. In 2012, he took the third set of Nadal in the final, taking advantage of the damp conditions and the low spin of the heavy balls, but a rain delay interrupted his flow and he lost the fourth set, and the match, the next day. In 2013, he led Nadal by a break in the fifth set before an unfortunate incident with the net in which he touched it before the ball bounced distracted him and he went on to lose the match.
Last year, Djokovic was sick from the semi-finals onward and disappointed in the final. But, last year, the Djokovic playing the Roland Garros final was a very different one to the one playing now. The Serbian not only had the pressure of completing the career slam, but also had the pressure of losing his four of his previous five slam finals. Since then he has added two more slams to his resume.
With Nadal out of form, and with his match up against Federer on slow courts well in his favor, if Djokovic can keep his fitness, and his head, he has his greatest chance ever to win his first Roland Garros title and complete the Career Grand Slam
Roger Federer Champion 2009, Runner up 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011
Since winning the title in 2009, Federer’s record at Roland Garros has gotten gradually worse- semi-final, quarter final and fourth round.
It is difficult to say that it will get better this year. After all, after winning the Brisbane title convincingly at the start of the sesason, Federer lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Andreas Seppi, who he had beaten ten times and never lost to.
Going into Roland Garros, Federer has has mixed results. He lost in the fourth round of Monte Carlo to Gael Monfils, and lost in his opening match in Madrid to Nick Kyrgios in a final set tiebreak. The Swiss turned things around in Rome, making the final, but lost decisively to Novak Djokovic in 75 minutes.
Whatever his prior results, Federer is world No.2, a former French Open champion, and arguably the second best clay courter in the Nadal era, so he cannot be counted out. Djokovic could lose early if the pressure gets to him, Federer could go on an inspired streak, there are many possibilities, and as long as Federer is in the draw, he can win it.
Roland Garros has been the scene of Federer’s greatest slam moments- completing the Career Grand Slam and matching Sampras’ 14 slam record in 2009- and his worst- his biggest loss in a Slam final in 2008. How this year will go is anybody’s guess, but with Federer turning 34 this year, it could be one of his last chances to win another French Open, and whatever happens, it will make gripping viewing.
Rafael Nadal Champion 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
Nadal enters the tournament he has won a record nine times and lost to at only once in arguably his worst form for over a decade. For the first time going into his favorite event he has failed to win a European Clay court event and is ranked at his lowest ranking for ten years.
The four defeats he has suffered in the lead up to Roland Garros have all been decisive, all in straight sets, and have seen him unable to solve the problems he has so often talked about in a tennis match, a skill that was once his trademark.
Despite this lack of form and much publicized lack of confidence, Nadal cannot be discounted from the list of favorites. His record is too strong, and beating him in straight sets in a best of three event is one thing, overcoming him in five in Paris, and Roland Garros is sure to bring out the best in him, is another.
The only man to do that has been Robin Soderling, and it will take a similar performance of a lifetime by the Spaniard’s rivals to dethrone Nadal in Paris this year.
Commentary by Christian Deverille.
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