French Open 2012: The Roland Garros Crystal Ball
Things are starting to look a little shaky for some of the so-called locks to advance deep into the tournament. I'm talking about Novak Djokovic and that Swiss guy, Roger.
It took Djokovic five sets to beat the bigger, stronger, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had four match points to beat Djoko.
Federer narrowly escaped another loss to Juan Martin Del Potro, who defeated Fed in the U.S. Open Final back in 2009, and competition is about to get really tough even for the greatest of all time.
So if there are a few upsets, here's how they could happen:
Djokovic Will Beat Federer and Win Another French Open
Novak Djokovic will take on Roger Federer in the semifinals, and it will be an epic one. But Djokovic is the better player as of late. Yes, Federer is the greatest of all-time, but Djokovic is playing strong again after a shaky few sets vs Tsonga today.
Look for Djokovic to spread the court and make Federer run. Djokovic pulled out the win against Tsonga, who is also a big boy like Federer, and should be able to use the same strategy against Federer.
The match will go the distance, but Djokovic is playing with more power and versatility right now. Fed likes to hang out on the baseline and win with ground strokes that aren't what they used to be. Hanging back and not coming to the net is not going to cut it anymore.
Djokovic will meet Nadal in the final. Nadal will come out strong and win the first set, but Djokovic will battle back like he did today, surviving four match points to Tsonga and will capture his first French Open win. He knows what's at stake to beat Federer: the chance to beat Nadal. And once you let him get that close, Djokovic knows he could separate himself from Nadal and Federer by going on another streak of winning four Grand Slams in a row.
Nicolas Almagro Beat Rafael Nadal?
Plus, Almagro has two things going for him. The pressure is ALL on Nadal. And Almagro is one of the quicker players in the tournament. If the stars align, Nadal falls under pressure, perhaps rolls an ankle and Almagro plays his absolute heart out, we could be looking at a star in the making.
Disclaimer: I know the odds of this happening are one in a billion. But it's more fun to read about the wild card.
Sara Errani Could Very Well Win the French Open
Sara Errani has a shot at winning this years French Open. For every match she plays, the pressure is on the opponent to win the match. No one wants to lose to a 21 seed in the semifinals. Or the finals.
For Errani, she's just happy to be this far into the tournament. But I'm sure she realizes the potential to steal a few more wins and capture her first French Open title.
The road isn't exactly tough, either. She knocked off No. 10 Andrea Kerber today and has a date with Australian Samantha Sostur, who isn't exacly a lock for anything at this point.
Errani has the mental toughness to outlast more physically gifted opponents, having just beaten Kerber in a second set tiebreaker. And she's a great all-court player, so while she doesn't do anything particularly amazing, she's pretty good at all areas.
She'll likely have to go through Maria Sharapova if she wants to win it all in Paris, but Sharapova isn't at the top of her game anymore and shouldn't be considered the overwhelming favorite.
The door is wide open. Errani is knocking. This could be her year.
Yaroslava Shvedova Will Advance to the Semifinals
Shvedova, like Errani, is just thankful to be turning a few hands with a chance to be in the semifinals. She is playing the best tennis of her life and knows this may be her only chance to really make a splash in the ATP.
After dropping the first set to last years French Open Winner Li Na, Shvedova went on a tear, losing just two games for the rest of the match, closing out Na 6-0 in the final set. She deserves respect.
She moves well on clay and looks more confident at the net. Look for Shvedova to take Petra Kvitová the distance and upset the No. 4 seed. All eyes will be on Kvitova heading in to the match, but there will be a few head-scratchers at Rolland Garos by the end of the match wondering who the woman is behind the glasses.
Kanepi Could Take Down Sharapova
Kanepi could very well take down Maria Sharapova and advance to the semifinals.
Sharapova has had her troubles as of late, narrowly escaping a loss to the unranked Zakopalova. Kanepi, meanwhile, has handled her opponents with surprising ease. Kanepi is very powerful at the baseline and has an amazingly strong serve. She also has been working on her backhand slice.
Look for Kanepi to overpower Sharapova from the baseline and advance to the semifinals after a hard-fought match.