There's been a lot of chatter about which side of the bracket Djokovic would end up on in the French Open and, if he happened to be on Federer's side, that it spells trouble for Federer. I never believed that and wrote some compelling arguments against it. As it turns out, they will now not match up anyway.
And that leads me to my conclusion that Federer will again meet Nadal in the finals. Will the result be any different? Well, one thing’s for sure, Roger is not taking the same game plan with him. But will it be enough? We’ll see. But first, how do we get to a rematch.
If you look at the likely draws for Federer, they now stand to be Haas (for sure), then Roddick, and then Del Potro. As for Tommy Haas, he was a good player in his day. He attained the No. 2 ranking in the world at one point.
He might have stayed in the top 10 longer if he had not had some injuries. But, Roger has played with determination and turned it up or, as they say, found that extra gear that champions know how to find when he has needed it. Roger is on a quest for the only Slam he doesn’t have. He isn’t going to let Haas stand in his way.
As for Roddick, this is the first time Roddick has ever made week two at Paris. And he’s done it courtesy of a very weak draw. Roger is 18-2 against him for a reason. Some players skills just don’t match up well against other players even though they may be fine against everyone else.
In other words, I don’t think Fed’s lead on Andy is truly an indicator of how much better he is than Andy as much as it is that there are certain mismatches that favor Roger when he plays Andy. And since Andy isn’t at home on clay anyway, his road will end here.
The same is true for Del Potro. For some reason, he has beaten Nadal and Murray but he doesn’t match up well against Roger. Roger has no trouble with him and absolutely no nerves playing him because he is aware of this mismatch and knows he can employ it at will.
It’s easier to forecast Andy in Roger’s path than it is Del Potro because Del Potro must play not just once but twice to get Fed and he must face a tougher test in Tsonga than Andy does in his next opponent. So there is a chance that Fed plays Tsonga instead of Del Potro.
I still don’t think it matters. If Fed meets Tsonga, it will be for the right to play in the finals. I don’t see Fed letting himself get that close and then falling short. Conversely, Tsonga is not used to playing six games in 11 days (as Fed is) and is not used to playing in big moments for all the marbles (as Fed is).
And being a Frenchman seems to be more liability than assistance because the French put so much expectations on their players to do well at Roland Garros that it tends to become a monkey on their back that eventually gets them.
Could I be wrong about this? Sure! I didn’t think Djokovic would lose today…but he did. But, I think each of the scenarios I listed is far more likely to happen than the alternative. The betting lines would back up that Roger winning each of these matches rather than losing is the more probable event.
And since we are all mutually convinced as tennis fans that Rafa will be the one standing at the end on his side of the bracket, then I think we all have to start preparing ourselves for Nadal/Federer in the French Finals IV.
I personally have no problem with this as I would like to see Fed take the title. He is most deserving as he will have played in four finals if this happens. Nobody else has played in four French finals and not won one. That's because nobody else has had to play Nadal there.
That accident of birth is another reason I want Fed to win. Had he been playing in another era (or Rafa in another era for that matter), Fed would already have hardware from Paris. He deserves it.