Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roland Garros 2014: My Picks to Win

via Live Tennis Guide
For nearly a decade, the great Spaniard Rafael Nadal has dominated Roland Garros.  In fact, dominance seems an inadequate word.  Nadal has played in the tournament nine times and has only lost one match, a quarterfinal tumble with Robin Soderling (Sweden) in 2009.  It's an absurd accomplishment.  No other man has won any Major eight times.  However the overall Greatest of All Time discussion shakes out, pretending anyone other than Nadal is the best ever on clay courts gets increasingly ridiculous with each passing year.  Picking someone else to win this year's tournament would seem crazy.

And yet, the Clay King and current World #1 suddenly seems vulnerable.  Nadal usually steamrolls his way through the appetizer tournaments on the clay court swing but ONLY managed two titles this year: Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.  He failed to take home the big prizes in Monte Carlo, Barcelona or Rome - tournaments he has won at least seven times each.  He hadn't lost in Barcelona since 2003.  A recent interview with Time magazine hints at flagging confidence.  Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic (Serbia) is breathing down his neck for the top ranking and is surely motivated to win in Paris to complete his own Career Slam.  Moveover, the Djoker has won their past four head-to-head meetings, including the recent Rome final on clay.  If ever there were a year to pick against Nadal at the French, this would seem to be it.

But I can't do it.  One day, the King's reign will end - just not quite yet.

The story is different on the women's side.  American Serena Williams arrives in top form - very bad news for the rest of the field.  Few players in the world can even give Serena a decent match when she's at her best and her recent title in Rome indicates she's more than ready to defend her title.  Her biggest threat may well loom in the quarterfinals: Maria Sharapova (Russia).  With wins in Stuttgart and Madrid, Sharapova is the second hottest player coming into the tournament.  Whichever woman survives to the semis should run the table thereafter.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say Sharapova scores the upset and wins the big trophy.
via MariaSharapova.com

8 comments:

  1. Serena Williams is still playing? I don't recognize the other names...

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    1. Serena's 32, an age by which most tennis pros are sitting on the couch at home. But she's still going strong, virtually untouchable when she's on her game. Staying healthy is a bigger challenge than when she was younger but as long as she does, losses are very rare.

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  2. Check out L.O.C. blog. weird.

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    1. No...disregard...I was having an elder moment. Haha

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  3. Yay, Roland Garros - couch potato time! Apparently the forecast for the first week is very unsettled with rain and storms due in Paris. What about Andy Murray? Clay isn't really his surface but Federer is past his prime and probably too busy building his own little dynasty with four children now!

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    1. Murray's definitely dropped off a bit - no tournament finals at all since Wimbledon. And you're right, clay's not his best but he's no push over on dirt, either. He is a former semifinalist at RG. It seems unlikely this is the tournament that will get him back on track. Wimbledon's a better bet for Murray.

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