10 Under-the-Radar Players to Watch at French Open 2014
The players included on this list are not the top players in the world. Players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are obvious choices to make deep runs at Roland Garros.
These are the players that do not get the love of the top guns but each possesses the talent to do some damage at the French Open.
Any player inside of the top 10 could not be included on this list. Each player included on this list has a legitimate chance at making it to the fourth round or further.
Let's take a look at the under-the-radar men to watch at the 2014 French Open.
When I saw Nicolas Almagro waiting for Jack Sock in the first round, I expected the American to maybe take a set off him. However, Almagro was injured and retired down 5-0 in the first set.
Now the draw has really opened up for Sock. He will play the winner of Steve Johnson and Laurent Lokoli, who are currently in a postponed fifth set. Sock will be fresher and can beat both of these players.
His third-round match would be against the winner of Dusan Lajovic and Jurgen Zopp. They have a combined record of just 25-45 in their careers. The young American might not have much experience yet, but he has the ability to beat both of these players.
He would likely play Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, so his run would end there. However, a fourth-round appearance would be Sock's best Grand Slam performance. It would also really boost his confidence and ranking.
With a win over Stanislas Wawrinka, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez pulled off the biggest upset of the first round.
Next, he has a very winnable match against Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino is just 5-12 on the year and is just 1-5 at the French Open.
His third-round match would be against the winner of Feliciano Lopez and Donald Young. He would be a heavy favorite over the American, and I would give him the slight edge over his fellow Spaniard. Lopez may be higher ranked, but Garcia-Lopez is the better player on clay and has had the better year.
Next, would likely be Gael Monfils or Fabio Fognini. Garcia-Lopez would be the underdog, but both players are beatable.
If he can get past that, he is in Andy Murray's quarter and Nadal's half of the draw.
The always-entertaining Gael Monfils is no stranger to success here in his home country. He has two quarterfinal appearances and one semifinal appearance at the French Open.
He should have no problem in his second-round match against Jan-Lennard Struff. In his third match, he would likely face Fabio Fognini. He is 2-3 against Fognini in his career, but I like the Frenchman to pull off the upset at home.
Monfils would be the favorite over any of his four possible opponents (Young, Lopez, Garcia-Lopez or Mannarino) in the fourth round.
If he advances past the fourth, he is in Murray's quarter and Nadal's half of the draw.
Fernando Verdasco has made it to the fourth round at Roland Garros four times, but the last time he advanced that far was back in 2010.
He should not have much trouble against Pablo Cuevas, who sat at just 2-5 before Roland Garros.
Verdasco's fourth-round opponent would likely be Andy Murray. The Spaniard has struggled against him in his career, but he has also never played him on clay.
If he can upset Murray, he would have an easier match in the quarterfinals before most likely meeting Nadal in the semifinals.
The unorthodox Alexandr Dolgopolov is off to a great start in 2014, and he has the talent to beat anyone. He has shown this already by beating Nadal and Wawrinka this year.
His next match will be against Marcel Granollers, who is just 9-15 on the year. Even though clay is Granollers' best surface, the Ukrainian will be too much for him.
Dolgopolov's next match would be against Robin Haase or Martin Klizan. Both players would be a test for the Ukrainian, but he is more talented than both of them.
If he advances to the fourth round, he would likely face Gilles Simon or Milos Raonic. His game can keep up with both of these players, but I think he would rather play the less experienced Raonic. It would be an upset for him to beat either of these players on clay, but he has the talent to do it.
He is in Djokovic's quarter of the draw.
Kevin Anderson is looking to defend his points from a fourth-round appearance in 2013. Clay does not support his power game, but the South African has a nice draw to get back to the fourth round once again.
He will take on Axel Michon in Round 2. This should not be a problem match for Anderson, as Michon has only won one match above the challenger ranks.
He would then take on qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer or Ivo Karlovic. I like Anderson to beat either of them. Haider-Maurer is ranked outside the top 100 and has won only two matches entering the French Open.
Karlovic is a difficult match for anyone, as one can never really get a rhythm. However, the clay will actually benefit Anderson here, as it will neutralize the Karlovic serve. Clay is the only surface where Karlovic has a win percentage under 50 percent at just 42 percent.
If he manages to pull off the upset, he would play an even better Spaniard. Rafael Nadal would likely be waiting for him in the quarterfinals.
Tommy Robredo is no stranger to success at Roland Garros. He advanced to the quarterfinals last year, and he has four other quarterfinal appearances on his resume as well.
He will take on Kenny De Schepper in Round 2, who came into Roland Garros with a record of just 2-7. The Frenchman should not pose too much of a threat to the veteran Spaniard.
John Isner will likely be waiting for him in the third round. The American is a tough match for anyone, but Robredo has been a far better player on clay in his career.
The Spaniard would then likely take on Tomas Berdych. The match could go either way, but Robredo is 2-1 against him on clay and beat him last year on the surface.
Ernests Gulbis came into Roland Garros fresh off a title in Nice, and he also made it to the quarterfinals in Madrid and semifinals in Barcelona.
The Latvian will get a tired Facundo Bagnis in Round 2, and he should not have much trouble getting past him.
His third-round opponent will likely be Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian veteran has not been the same player this year, as he came into Paris at just 6-9. Gulbis also won their only meeting on clay. I like Gulbis to advance.
Federer will likely be waiting for him in the third round. Gulbis has challenged Federer in all of their matches. He is 1-2 against Federer but every match has gone the distance. He will be the underdog, but it is possible he pulls off the upset.
Gilles Simon has reached the fourth round here twice, and it would not be a surprise to see him do it again.
He should be able to get past the inexperienced Alejandro Gonzalez in Round 2, but Round 3 will provide a much bigger test.
Milos Raonic will likely be waiting for Simon there. Raonic will be the favorite, but Simon has had more success on clay during his career. The Canadian is still learning the surface, and if it continues to rain in Paris, the surface will be an even bigger advantage for Simon. It will slow down play and take away from Raonic's power game. The match would be a good one, but I like Simon to pull the upset in front of the French crowd.
His fourth-round opponent would most likely be Alexandr Dolgopolov. This match could go either way, but Simon has had more success in his career on clay. Dolgopolov has been far better on the hard courts for his career, so I would give Simon the slight edge.
If he gets this far, he is in Djokovic's quarter.
Remember that just a year ago Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took out Federer in the quarterfinals before losing to David Ferrer in the semifinals. He has not had his best year so far, but he always plays great in is home country.
He should have no problem handling Jurgen Melzer in the second round. The Frenchman is 3-0 against him in his career.
His next match would be against Jerzy Janowicz or Jarkko Nieminen. Tsonga has beaten Nieminen the last three times they have played, and Janowicz's game is much better on the faster surfaces. Tsonga should beat either of them without too much trouble.
He would be a tough test for Djokovic in the fourth round. Tsonga trails their head-to-head matchups 11-5, but Tsonga did take him to five sets here in 2012. It would probably take a good day for Tsonga and an off day for Djokovic, but the upset is possible.
If he beats Djokovic, he would likely be the favorite in his quarterfinal match before setting up a rematch against Federer in the semifinals.
**All stats courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com