French Open 2012: Overlooked Players to Watch out for

Oliver ThomasContributor IJune 4, 2012

French Open 2012: Overlooked Players to Watch out for

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    The 2012 French Open is a tournament of upsets and triumphs. Roland Garros is not all about Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Maria Sharapova—it's about dark horses.

    Just when the critics have written them off, certain tennis players step up to the challenge and deliver against the odds. Consequently, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and many other notables are out of contention.

    With the fourth round already underway, here are the overlooked players who can still do some damage.

Kaia Kanepi

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    Kaia Kanepi shocked the tennis world when she upset No. 9 ranked Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3 in the third round.

    It was an ugly victory for the Estonian, who failed to convert on four match points. Yet, her grit and determination outweighed Wozniacki's.

    Now, the No. 23 Kanepi has been thrusted into the limelight. She's already shown that she can beat the world's former top-ranked player. So if she can keep the momentum rolling, then that spells danger for Arantxa Rus in Round 4.

    The soon to be 27-year-old has already won two titles this year, and racked up a solid 16-6 record. She may lack some name value, but that's why they play the match.

    "Her titles at Brisbane International and Estoril Open show that she is an all court player and knows her way around on all surfaces," said Akshay Kohli of Tennisearth.com. "Presently ranked at 23 in the World, Kanepi is looking to rise up the rankings and challenge the big guns more. Her heavy ground strokes can give anyone a run for their money."

Nicolas Almagro

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    Flying beneath the radar, Nicolas Almagro is putting together a French Open run.

    The 26-year-old Spaniard has survived the fourth round, after knocking off the eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

    The No. 12 ranked tennis player is on to the quarterfinals. Yet what's most impressive, is that Almagro hasn't lost a set at the 2012 French Open.

    He'll either face his nemesis Rafael Nadal or No. 13 Juan Monaco next round.

    During Almagro's last two journeys to the round of eight at Roland Garros in 2008 and 2010, Nadal was the one who eliminated him, reports the Associated Press. In their seven career matches, Nadal is undefeated.

    A grim history between the two Spanish natives doesn't bode well for Almagro. Nonetheless, he remains a volatile threat to his opponents. 

Sara Errani

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    Sara Errani defeated No. 26 Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday, 6-4, 7-5.

    Kuznetsova had just dethroned No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the fourth-round matchup. Yet, Errani was unfazed by the Russian. In the third round, Errani devastated the 2009 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, 6-2, 6-2.

    "As its lowest seed, Errani won’t be the favorite to reach the final from her half of the draw," said Carl Bialik of the Wall Street Journal. "But her clay-court skills and great form make her a real threat."

    According the the Associated Press, five different women have won the last five Grand Slam titles, and the last four majors have been won by first-time champions. That is where Errani comes into the picture. Don't be surprised if the Italian continues her run in the 2012 French Open.

Dominika Cibulkova

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    Dominika Cibulkova pulled off a stunner by defeating No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round, 6-2, 7-6.

    Cibulkova is ranked at just No. 15, but her performance against Azarenka proves she can out-duel the elite.

    The Slovakian will face Samantha Stosur, with a spot in the semifinals on the line. Based on her previous performance, the 23-year-old is no slouch.

    She's earned 239 career wins and been ranked as high as No. 12 in the world.

David Ferrer

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    The sixth-seeded David Ferrer made quick work of his fellow countryman Marcel Granollers in the fourth round of Roland Garros, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.

    The 30-year-old is a two-time major semifinalist and is on a hot streak: He's only lost 25 games in four matches at the 2012 French Open, per Mailonline.com.

    "It's true that in the past four matches, I felt really comfortable. I felt really at ease,'' Ferrer told the Associate Press. "I think I have to continue this way.''

    As for the quarterfinals, Ferrer will be facing either No. 4 Andy Murray or No. 17 Richard Gasquet.

    If Murray wins out, Ferrer will be put up against quite the task. However, Ferrer is on a roll and will be a tough competitor for the British pro.