– High profile withdrawals
– Djokovic in pole position
– Nadal and Murray on his heels
– Williams looking to right wrongs
The 115th edition of the clay court event has been tarnished slightly by the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who will miss his first grand slam since 1999. Home crowd favourite Gael Monfils was also forced to pull out following a viral infection.
Nonetheless, in the men’s draw, pundits still have world number one Novak Djokovic as the outright favourite. And who can blame them, as the Serb has been in sensational form. Djokovic will arrive in Paris with a 37-3 win/loss record for the year.
Despite Andy Murray’s recent win in the Italian Open final over Djokovic, many are picking Rafael Nadal as the next best. The King of Clay has showed glimpses of his old self on his favourite surface, winning back-to-back titles in April.
The Spaniard has improved much since his first round loss at the Australian Open in January and will be eager to make a point on Court Philippe Chatrier, a place where he has claimed no less than nine French Open titles.
However, Murray’s exploits of late cannot be ignored. While the Scot has claimed just one title in 2016, his sensational straight sets win over Djokovic in Rome will certainly squash any doubts he had about his play on a surface he doesn’t enjoy.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka has not impressed on any surface this year. While he has two titles, they were against depleted draws. In fact, the Swiss has not beaten a top ten player this season, so it’s hard to see him defending his title in Paris.
Kei Nishikori has been productive on clay in 2016 and his attritional style of play has the potential to go far at Roland Garros. The Japanese superstar has won ten out of his last 13 matches on the red stuff. Nishikori also has one title to his name for the year, dropping just one set on his way to winning the Memphis Open.
Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, it’s business as usual as Serena Williams is the overwhelming favourite to lift what would be her 22nd grand slam title.
This is despite the American picking up just one title in 2016. However, Williams can draw much confidence in her Italian Open triumph.
World number five Victoria Azarenka has shown she is back to her best this season and her back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami prove that. We think this could be her year to pick up a third grand slam title.
When in form Angelique Kerber can beat the best in the business, as she showed during her Australian Open victory. The German has struggled of late on clay, getting knocked out in the opening round of her last two tournaments, but a strong showing on the big stage is expected.