The 2014 French Open draw has been released, revealing storylines and compelling potential matchups. It's set the stage for a few weeks of excitement at Roland Garros.
It was no surprise to see clay-court king Rafael Nadal take the top seed, despite his struggles early this year. But with some interesting opponents set to face him, he could be in for some trouble.
Will Nadal hold off the field yet again and win his fifth straight French Open, further proving his all-time greatness? Can Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray win their first-ever major at Roland Garros? Will perhaps an unheard-of player knock off a Goliath early on?
Let's figure all of that out, but first, let's take a look at the complete draw of seeds and a full bracket.
|27||Roberto Bautista Agut||ESP|
The entire bracket can be found at RolandGarros.com.
No. 6 Tomas Berdych Will Be Ousted Early
In the scope of the past few seasons, 28-year-old Tomas Berdych has emerged as one of those few players who has shown the potential to threaten the Big Four in major tournaments.
But not this year, and not on clay.
Berdych came on strong in 2014 by making the semifinals of the Australian Open and nearly beating eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka, before winning the Rotterdam Open and losing the Dubai final to Roger Federer.
However, since he's hit the clay courts, it hasn't been the same for Berdych. He lost in the third round at Monte Carlo and fell apart in the Portugal Open final, losing to Carlos Berlocq.
Berdych could face 27th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in Round 3 or Tommy Robredo in Round 4, but he might not even make it that far. In three out of the last five years, Berdych has failed to make it out of the opening round.
Even if he does make it to the quarters for just the second time, he'll face one of the best to ever play the sport, as Live Tennis notes:
Possible Men's QFs #RG14 Nadal/Ferrer, Wawrinka/Murray, Berdych/Federer, Raonic/Djokovic— Live Tennis (@livetennis) May 23, 2014
There's no doubt that Berdych is due for his own major championship or at least a deep run in one, but it won't come at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal Will Quiet Noise, Win Ninth French Open
Rafael Nadal's clay court season has started out unlike any of his previous ones in the past decade.
For the first time in 10 years, Nadal has lost three matches on clay in a single season. He fell to Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo quarters, lost to No. 21 Nicolas Almagro not long after in Barcelona and finished up with a loss in the Rome final against Djokovic.
But when he gets to the French Open, it's almost always a different story, per Roland Garros' Twitter:
His eight French Open wins are already the all-time most. His record of 59-1 at the event unequivocally means he's played in nine French Opens and won eight. In his last four French Open finals combined, he's won 12 sets while losing just two—a level of dominance that is simply absurd.
Will Rafael Nadal win his ninth French Open?
In this year's tournament, he may face Almagro, whom he lost to on clay earlier, and Ferrer, one of the world's best clay-court players. But considering Nadal disposed of Ferrer in last year's Roland Garros final in straight sets and Almagro hasn't made it past the quarters, Nadal won't be too worried.
Nadal's toughest test should come in the final, likely against second-seeded Djokovic. Nadal only has a 22-19 all-time lead in head to head against Djokovic but is a perfect 5-0 against him in the French Open, with wins in both 2012 and 2013. Plus, he'll be looking for revenge after his loss to the Serbian in Rome just a short while ago.
If history is any sort of indication, Nadal will be hoisting his ninth French Open trophy when it's all said and done.