French Open 2012: Superstars Facing Massive Hurdles This Week
Week two of the French Open is upon us. After a wild first week, including the second-longest match in French Open history, the best tennis is still yet to come.
French Open favorite Rafael Nadal is looking to win his seventh title at Roland Garros. The Spaniard has looked dominant in all areas of his game. For the other top players, matches may not come as easy this week.
Here's a look at the top players that may have some troubles in the second week at the French Open.
Murray has seemed to have some trouble with his lower back. That much was known prior to the French Open. However, Murray even said that he was a few points from retiring in his second-round match against Jaarko Nieminen. He even fell 6-1 in the first set of that match. His lower back injury continues to give him problems, apparently.
Murray's draw doesn't give him the best chance to return to a semifinal. In the Round of 16, he will see Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Gasquet has one of the best one-handed backhands in the game, and he can really push Murray to the edge.
A potential quarter-final match could see Murray go against David Ferrer. The Spaniard knows how to play on clay, and he hits the ball with aggression. If Murray is still having this lower back injury, his chances to go deep into week two could be slim.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion has now shown his best tennis thus far. Federer has quietly cruised back to the quarterfinals, but he could have trouble in the second week.
Federer has been pushed in the first week. After all, the Swiss legend has been taken to four sets in his matches against Adrian Ungur, Nicolas Mahut and David Goffin. Federer's made his fair share of errors in his opening matches.
Do not worry just yet, Federer fans. In the beginning of Grand Slams, Federer usually doesn't play his best tennis. Perhaps he's just smart in saving his energy for this upcoming week.
However, the 2009 French Open champion must play his best tennis from here on out. The competition only gets tougher. Perhaps he was lucky with how his draw unfolded in the early rounds, but all of the opponents will be difficult moving forward.
In the next round, Federer will either see Tomas Berdych or Juan Martin Del Potro. Both players absolutely crack the ball, and they have each defeated Roger in Grand Slams. Del Potro got the better of him in a US Open final, while Berdych has defeated the Swiss at Wimbledon.
Both players are obviously tough outs in any Grand Slam. They are not afraid of the big moment and playing on Philippe Chatrier.
The one advantage for Federer is that Del Potro or Berdych may not be heavily rested due to playing their match for two straight days. Their match started late on Sunday, and it's a match that could see a lot of tiebreakers.
Boy, did Djokovic save his French Open on Sunday. The Serbian survived a big scare from Andreas Seppi in five sets. In the process, Djokovic made the third two-set down comeback of his career. The elusive "Novak Slam" looked to be in severe jeopardy.
What's even more alarming is that Novak committed 81 unforced errors. It could be a good sign that he was able to grind out a match and come through, but the unforced errors are inexcusable.
If Djokovic is to defeat a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the next round, he will need to be the aggressive player that has won 25 straight matches in the majors.
Djokovic got the job done, but it certainly wasn't the effort that he, or his fans, would have liked to see.
Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro is as dangerous as they come in the field. This is especially true in the second week of play.
However, a large hurdle looms for the Argentine in his potential quarterfinal match. Federer has seemed to solve the player who defeated him in the 2009 US Open Final. In the last five matches, Roger has seemed to have his way with Del Potro.
In the Australian Open, Federer easily defeated Del Potro in straight sets. The young Argentine has the game to give Roger trouble, but he would have to play a clean match.
But, first things first, Del Potro would have to defeat Berdych in the Round of 16.
The fourth-round battle between Berdych and Del Potro could be a real test of fitness. Both are two of the hardest hitters in the sport, and the winner will have the opportunity to shock Federer in the quarters.
Then again, the main hurdle for both of these guys is Federer. Yes, both have defeated him on the big stage, but both players will have to dictate play in the rallies.
Another key to get past the hurdle of Federer would be to serve big and accurately. When Berdych and Del Potro defeated Roger, they got him out of his comfort zone. Basically, both guys have to attack Fed's backhand.