With the action now underway at the 2014 French Open, some of the biggest questions surrounding the sport will be answered over the coming weeks.
Will Rafael Nadal continue his dominance at Roland Garros—where he has won eight of the last nine—despite his rocky start to the clay-court season? Does Roger Federer have enough in the tank to muster up another major championship run?
Is it finally Novak Djokovic's year to complete the career Grand Slam? Can Serena Williams build off her 2013 title to win again at the major that she's had the least success in among the four?
All of these questions and plenty more will be answered throughout the action at Roland Garros, which began on Sunday with a heap of first-round matchups.
Let's peek at the complete bracket as it currently stands and look ahead to what is likely to unfold throughout the days.
Visit RolandGarros.com for every up-to-date bracket with real-time results.
After Strong Start, Federer Will Cruise to Semifinals
The tennis world has changed quite a bit at the top in recent years. With names like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic emerging, Roger Federer has seen his name start to slip from the elite in spite of his legendary status.
So far in 2014, he looks keen on changing that.
Federer made the quarterfinal of every tournament he played in this year prior to an early exit at the Rome Masters. At Roland Garros, he started out hot, dominating first-round opponent Lukas Lacko in straight sets on Sunday.
After the match, Federer was feeling as confident as ever, per Kate Battersby of RolandGarros.com:
“Everything is great,” grinned Federer afterwards. “I’m happy to have got early signs out of this match that I’m playing well. I’m very pleased, very satisfied. I had everything under control from A to Z. The match was rather easy for me. And my personal life, as we all know, is great so I’m happy the family is here."
The fourth-seeded Federer has No. 6 Tomas Berdych, No. 10 John Isner and No. 15 Mikhaul Youzhny standing between him and a berth in the semifinals. He shouldn't be seriously tested by any of those if he plays at the form that he's shown throughout 2014.
It's hard to see the Swiss star getting past Djokovic in the semis for a spot in the championship match, simply because he looks to be on a collision course with Rafael Nadal in the final. But at the very least, Federer should be able to cruise into that showdown against Djokovic without much trouble.
Serena Williams En Route to Second Straight French Open
The world of men's tennis singles is crowded at the top. Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray are all undeniable names, and now the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka and more are being added.
But nobody controls the women's side of things like Serena Williams.
The 32-year-old American is currently the top-ranked women's tennis player, and it's not difficult to see why. With 17 Grand Slam titles to her name and two in each of the last two seasons, she's re-ignited her dominance over the sport after two years without a Grand Slam between the 2010 and 2012 Wimbledons.
Roland Garros hasn't been kind to Williams, but she won her first title there since 2002 in last year's event and just her second ever. She has five victories at each of the other three Grand Slam events.
Heading into the French Open, Williams' recent form on clay is a positive indicator. She won Rome's Italian Open—the inevitable tuneup to Roland Garros—in convincing fashion, dominating Sara Errani 6-3, 6-0.
Williams has been on a tear this season, with a nagging leg injury as the only thing keeping her from winning in every appearance she's made in 2014. If her performance in Rome is any indication, her leg is good to go, and she'll be flying around the clay courts as usual en route to a third French Open title.
Rafael Nadal Will Quiet Noise with Another Title on Clay
Rafael Nadal is usually the safe bet of all safe bets at the French Open, but this year that's not the case.
For the first time in 10 years, Nadal—the king of clay—is entering Roland Garros with three losses on clay already this season. The last time he did that was 2004, before he had won a single French Open.
However, since then, he's won eight of the last nine French Opens. It's been one of the most impressive displays of dominance at a single Grand Slam event in the history of the sport, with his one and only loss at Roland Garros as a pro coming in 2009.
The Spaniard's elite play at the French Open hasn't gone unnoticed despite his recent struggles, as he was awarded the top overall seed. But the eight-time winner was still slated to play on Court Suzanne Lenglen for his early round matchups—rare for the great who usually is given the prize of playing on the Philippe Chatrier court.
The move created a Twitter firestorm and caught John Isner off guard, per The Telegraph's Simon Briggs:
Meaningless debate over Nadal's playing location aside, the French Open should be his. This year isn't the first time he's gone into Roland Garros with some struggles, and it's certainly not the first time he was doubted to repeat.
Nadal has struggled against Djokovic as of late, which bodes problems for the potential championship. But while the Serbian has become accustomed to Roland Garros, Nadal is the king of the tournament and has had his sights set on it since the Australian Open concluded.
Certainly he would have liked to come into the Grand Slam major with better recent results, but that won't keep Nadal from lifting a ninth French Open trophy.
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