RAFA V NOVAK IN ROLAND GARROS QUARTERS?
Rafa Nadal could face Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarter-finals…with Andy Murray potentially awaiting the winner in the semis!
If Djokovic is to complete his Career Slam in Paris, he is probably going to have to do it the hard way.
With Nadal seeded sixth and Murray third, Novak is faced with a momunemtal task before he faces an opponent such as Roger Federer or Gael Monfils in the final.
Could Djokovic be so weakened by a titanic clash against Nadal that the draw plays into Murray’s hands at the semi-final stage? The in-form Brit seems to pose the biggest threat to the Djokovic dream.
Time will tell, but the draw certainly throws up some fascinating confrontations, in theory at least. And few expect the world number ones to be toppled by the reigning champions at Roland Garros this year.
Even though Rafa Nadal is going for his sixth successive title, he is currently ranked seven in the world. You write off Rafa at your peril, but this year could be too much for him.
Djokovic, with his amazing playing record of 35-2 in 2015, is renowned for his extraordinary fitness and strength. He will need every little bit of his physical conditioning to negotiate this particular minefield.
If he does join the greats, it will be an emotional moment at the end of perhaps one of the toughest fortnights of his life.
Murray rested through much of Rome, having won Madrid and Munich, his first titles on clay. There is something casually-confident about the newly-married Andy in recent weeks and he will be under no great pressure to come good at Roland Garros for the first time.
He will, however, have to overcome his recent inferiority complex against Djokovic, the one that has seen him submit in Australia and elsewhere against the Serb in 2015.
The women’s singles will be equally fascinating. Serena Williams is looking for her 20th Grand Slam, an incredible milestone in itself. As long as she is over her recent elbow injury, an historic Calendar Slam also beckons later this year.
Only Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have achieved the feat in women’s tennis.
Don’t expect Maria Sharapova to be the one to destroy Serena’s dream – she rarely does. With a head-to-head record of 2-17, Maria hasn’t beaten Williams since 2004. Although Serena is 33, she is playing as well as ever and there is no reason why the 28-year-old Sharapova should suddenly find the answer.
So how come Maria is reigning champion, having won Roland Garros in both 2012 and 2014? Her game on clay has improved considerably, yet her success in Paris says more about Serena’s inconsistency there.
You always feel that Serena might just have a bad day at Roland Garros. And if she does, the likes of Simona Halep or Petra Kvitova could be waiting to pounce.
Sharapova’s best chance of retaining her title is if Williams loses to someone else.
And the biggest threat to Djokovic comes from Murray, not Nadal.
Could Roger Federer sneak through the other side of the draw to surprise us all with one more Slam? Let’s just say the ever-popular Swiss won’t be shaking his head in despair about that draw.
It’s the most unpredictable French Open in years and we can’t wait for the drama to unfold. How about you?
And then, after a reasonable rest between Slams this year, comes Wimbledon, the greatest of them all.
There’s nothing quite like a European summer for getting those tennis juices flowing!
Got your Wimbledon tickets yet?