How will Federer perform at the 2013 French Open?
Already advancing to Round 2 with a straight-sets victory over Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain, Federer's biggest obstacle en route to the semifinals is France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
That expected matchup can't occur until the quarterfinals, which puts the next three contests as time for the Swiss to buff out the rough spots. His second-round matchup is against Somdev Devvarman of India, who also swept in straight sets to advance.
That said, Devvarman ranks No. 188 in the ATP and his Round 1 opponent, Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain, only ranks No. 145. Despite winning in impressive fashion, Devvarman remains a long distance from equaling the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
Federer was also content about the victory, as he stated in an article by Greg Garber of ESPN.com:
I felt it was a good match for me. I knew it could be tricky if I didn't sustain a certain level of play and aggressiveness and get caught up in long rallies. Overall, I thought I did well on the serve, on the return and general movement as well. Clearly, I'm very pleased.
Thereafter, Federer's best potential opponents are Gilles Simon of France, Sam Querrey of the USA and Julien Benneteau also of France. Benneteau is the likely Round 3 matchup, as he ranks No. 32 in the ATP and actually defeated Federer in the quarterfinals at Rotterdam in straight sets.
Benneteau also defeated Simon immediately after to reach the final where he fell to Juan Martin del Potro. And although having logged a win over the Maestro will give the Frenchman confidence, Benneteau has struggled mightily on clay.
Beginning with Monaco and going through Rome, Benneteau has won only one match in his previous four tournaments. Federer has played much better by comparison, not to mention he reached the final in Italy where the Swiss was dismantled by Rafael Nadal.
Federer is just better on clay than Benneteau and still possesses the experience and success advantage regarding Grand Slam events.
Simon and Querrey are then the potential Round 4 matchup, but neither are capable of rising up to Fed's level. Simon was steamrolled by Federer in Italy (6-1, 6-2) and barely squeaked out of the French Open's first round: It took five sets to defeat Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, who ranks No. 86 in the ATP.
As for Querrey, he has no impressive victories and was crushed by elite talents such as Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych this season. In short, expect Federer to easily advance to the quarterfinals.
Therefore, a rather highly anticipated match against Tsonga is bound to happen.
Tsonga, though, has been quite inconsistent this season. After dropping to Federer at the Australian Open quarterfinals, he was one-and-done in Rotterdam then won in Marseille over Berdych—Tsonga's best win of the season.
Including continued struggles versus Djokovic and Nadal, he was also upset by Stanislas Wawrinka in Madrid and Jerzy Janowicz in Rome. Despite Tsonga's impressive French Open display in 2012, his 2013 campaign leading in does not possess as much momentum.
He's also Federer's best victory this season, which only adds to the Swiss' odds of advancing to the semifinals. Thereafter is where the competition drastically increases, because defeating either Berdych or David Ferrer to make another final appearance will be extensively difficult.
In short, Federer's early road isn't strong, and he'll smoothly glide to the semifinals.