French Open 2013 Bracket: Complete Analysis and Review

Lindsay GibbsFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2013

French Open 2013 Bracket: Complete Analysis and Review

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    The French Open singles draws are out, and the official countdown has begun.

    The big news on the men's side is that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been drawn on the same half, meaning that if the draw goes according to seed, they will face each other in the semifinals.

    In the other half, both Roger Federer and David Ferrer have been given a golden opportunity to get to the French Open final without facing either of the top two favorites.

    The women's side is equally imbalanced, with Serena Williams and Sara Errani in one half and Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova left to duke it out in the other half.

    You can find the complete women's draw here and the complete men's draw here.

    But who are the wild cards to watch? How did the draw gods treat the Americans? What are the best early-round matches? And who is going to win?

    Click through to find out.

Men's Favorites with an Easy Draw

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    Roger Federer (No. 2)

    Federer simply could not have dreamed of an easier draw. After only facing qualifiers for the first two rounds, the 2009 champion is scheduled to play Julien Benneteau (No. 30) in the third round, Gilles Simon (No. 15) in the Round of 16 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 6) in the quarterfinals.

    While all three Frenchmen have beaten Federer in the past, clay is not their best surface, and they shouldn't be able to give him too much trouble.

    In the semifinals, Federer is scheduled to meet David Ferrer. Federer leads that head-to-head 14-0.

     

    David Ferrer (No. 4)

    Ferrer also has an easy draw, just by virtue of being as far away from Djokovic and Nadal as possible. The highest seed he could face before the quarterfinals is No. 14 Milos Raonic, but the young Canadian is not comfortable on clay and shouldn't be a problem for Ferrer.

    He is scheduled to play Tomas Berdych (No. 5) in the quarterfinals, which could be a test if Berdych makes it that far.

Men's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Novak Djokovic (No. 1)

    What does the Serb have to do to get a little love at the French Open? 

    Djokovic has the possibility of running into three men who have beaten him in the past two months as he tries to win his first French Open title and complete his Career Slam.

    After facing last year's surprise second-weeker David Goffin in the first round, he could get his Madrid nemesis Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber (who beat him at this event in 2009) in the Round of 16 and No. 12 Tommy Haas, who took him out in Miami this year, in the quarterfinals. 

    His real test will come in the semifinals, where he'll undoubtedly face Rafael Nadal. 

     

    Rafael Nadal (No. 3)

    Speaking of Nadal, he could face Fabio Fognini (No. 27) or Lukas Rosol (!) in the third round, Kei Nishikori (No. 13) or Benoit Paire (No. 24) in the Round of 16 and Richard Gasquet (No. 7) or Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 9) in the quarterfinals. Then in the semifinals, he's slated to face the world No. 1.

    It's such a shame that the two favorites can't meet in the final.

     

    Tomas Berdych (No. 5)

    Berdych is definitely the biggest loser of the draw. He faces Gael Monfils in the first round and could face Ernests Gulbis in the second round. If he makes it past those two tests, he could get Nicolas Almagro (No. 11) in the Round of 16 and then David Ferrer (No. 4) in the quarterfinals. Ouch.

Women's Favorites with an Easy Draw

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    Serena Williams (No. 1)

    Like Roger Federer, Serena could not have hand-picked a better draw herself. She faces nobody of note in the first two rounds and then could get Sorana Cirstea (No. 26) in the third round, Roberta Vinci (No. 15) in the Round of 16 and possibly the slumping Angelique Kerber (No. 8) in the quarterfinals.

    To top it off, she's slated to meet Sara Errani (No. 5) or Agnieszka Radwańska (No. 4) in the semifinals. Sharapova and Azarenka are both on the other half of the draw.

     

    Sara Errani (No. 5)

    Even though she's on the same side of the draw as Serena Williams, Sara Errani got a great draw for the No. 5 seed. She's in No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwańska's section, but since Radwańska isn't good on clay and has been struggling with a shoulder injury, Errrani will be the clear-cut favorite to make it to the semifinals.

    Last year's finalist could face Sabine Lisicki (No. 32) in the third round, Nadia Petrova (No. 11) or Carla Suarez Navarro (No. 20) in the Round of 16 and then Radwańska (or No. 14 Ana Ivanovic) in the quarterfinals. Not too bad. 

Women's Favorites with a Tough Draw

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    Maria Sharapova (No. 2)

    Sharapova's draw isn't as tough as it could be, but she certainly got unlucky drawing Azarenka in her half of the draw instead of Radwańska.

    Besides Azarenka in the semifinals, she could also face Dominika Cibulkova (No. 16) in the Round of 16 and Sam Stosur (No. 9) or Petra Kvitova (No. 7) in the quarterfinals. Not a straightforward route for the defending champion at all.

     

    Victoria Azarenka (No. 3)

    Azarenka has never made it past the quarterfinals of the French Open, and her draw this year isn't making her quest for the semifinals an easy one. She has a pretty clear path to the fourth round, but there she could face Francesca Schiavone or Marion Bartoli (No. 13).

    In the quarterfinals, she's scheduled to face Li Na (No. 6), and then in the semifinals, she'd face Maria Sharapova. That's potentially three former champions before the final. Brutal.

Outlook for the American Men

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    To put it simply, not great.

     

    Sam Querrey (No. 18)

    Querrey, the American No. 1, is the only player with a decent shot at the second week, and he has not been playing well this clay-court season. But he gets Lukas Lacko in the first round, Jan Hajek or a qualifier in the second round and possibly Gilles Simon (No. 15) in the third round. That's certainly not an impossible path.

    If he does make the Round of 16, he'd likely face Roger Federer.

     

    John Isner (No. 19) and Ryan Harrison

    Isner and Harrison are in the same section and are scheduled to meet each other in the second round if Isner gets past Carlos Berlocq and Harrison gets past Andrey Kuznetsov. 

    The winner of that match would likely face No. 12 Tommy Haas, who would be very difficult to get past. With Isner and Harrison both struggling, it's unlikely that they'll make it past the third round.

     

    Others to Watch

    James Blake is actually in the draw and is scheduled to face Victor Troicki in the first round. He hasn't played at all this clay-court season and has never made it past the third round at the French, so expectations are limited.

    Alex Kuznetsov, the American wild card, faces French wild card Lucas Pouille, ranked No. 323, in the first round. If he gets past that winnable match, he'll most likely face Grigor Dimitrov.

Outlook for the American Women

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    Other than Serena Williams, who is a favorite for the title, there are a lot of American women with a chance to make a run into the third or fourth rounds.

     

    Sloane Stephens (No. 17)

    Stephens hasn't been able to back up her Australian Open semifinal run, but she has played great tennis at the French Open in the past. She has a clear path to the third round, where she could face Dominika Cibulkova (No. 16), but she'd be doing well just to get that far given her recent woes.

     

    Venus Williams (No. 30)

    Everything for Venus at this point hinges on the health of her back, which has sidelined her or kept her non-competitive most of clay season. She faces Urszula Radwańska in the first round, followed by likely foes Mandy Minella in the second round and Agnieszka Radwańska (No. 4) in the third round. If she's healthy, she could make the second week. If not, she'll be out by the first round.

     

    Others to Watch

    Varvara Lepchenko (No. 29) has had some great wins on clay this year and made the Round of 16 last year. Since she's in a section with struggling players such as Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki (No. 10), she could be a surprise quarterfinalist.

    Christina McHale, Jamie Hampton, Madison Keys, Mallory Burdette and Bethanie Mattek-Sands all have winnable first-round matches.

Must-See Early-Round Matches

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    There are so many great first-round matches this year. Here are the ones not to miss.

     

    Best Men's First-Round Matches

    Tomas Berdych (No. 5) vs. Gael Monfils

    Benoit Paire (No. 24) vs. Marcos Baghdatis

    Gilles Simon (No. 15) vs. Lleyton Hewitt

     

    Best Women's First-Round Matches

    Angelique Kerber (No. 8) vs. Mona Barthel

    Jelena Jankovic (No. 18) vs. Daniela Hantuchova

    Caroline Wozniacki (No. 10) vs. Laura Robson

     

    Best Potential Second-Round Matches

    Tomas Berdych (or Gael Monfils) vs. Ernests Gulbis

    Francesca Schiavone vs. Flavia Pennetta

Wild Cards to Watch

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    Here are four players who could shake things up.

     

    Ana Ivanovic (No. 14)

    The 2008 champion hasn't done much at the French Open since winning, but she's had a decent clay-court season and has a great draw. She only has to get past (at most) Petra Martic, Chanelle Scheepers, Julia Goerges (No. 24) and Agnieszka Radwańska (No. 4) to make the quarterfinals. 

     

    Svetlana Kuznetsova 

    Kuznetsova won the title in 2009 and is always a danger at this tournament—both to herself and others. She's in Caroline Wozniacki (No. 10) and Angelique Kerber's (No. 8) section of the draw, so she has a great opportunity to make a deep run.

     

    Tommy Haas (No. 12)

    Haas also has a great draw, as he shares a quarter with the struggling Janko Tipsarevic (No. 8). This leaves things open for Haas to make his first French Open quarterfinal at the age of 35. That would be incredible.

     

    Ernests Gulbis

    Gulbis will get Tomas Berdych (No. 5) in the second round (if Berdych makes it past Monfils), and this gives the talented Gulbis a golden opportunity to get the upset early and seize the path of the No. 5 seed. If he does that, anything is possible the rest of the way. He could wreak havoc.

Predictions for the Men's Tournament

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    My predictions for the men's tournament:

     

    Quarterfinals

    Novak Djokovic vs. Tommy Haas

    Rafael Nadal vs. Stanislas Wawrinka

    David Ferrer vs. Ernests Gulbis

    Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

     

    Semifinals

    Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal

    David Ferrer vs. Roger Federer

     

    Final

    Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer

     

    Champion

    Rafael Nadal

Predictions for the Women's Tournament

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    Here are my predictions for the women's tournament:

     

    Quarterfinals

    Serena Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

    Sara Errani vs. Ana Ivanovic

    Victoria Azarenka vs. Li Na

    Maria Sharapova vs. Samantha Stosur

     

    Semifinals

    Serena Williams vs. Sara Errani

    Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na

     

    Final

    Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova

     

    Champion

    Serena Williams