World's Best To Grind It Out At Roland Garros

Monica FritschCorrespondent IMay 22, 2010

The terre battue of Roland Garros is about to fly, as the 2010 French Open gets underway. It will be hard to beat last year’s surprising results, with Robin Soderling defeating the “King of Clay,” Rafael Nadal and making it all of the way to the final (l. to Federer) and Svetlana Kuznetsova taking the Women’s Singles title (d. Safina).
Let’s start with the Women’s Singles draw. Right away, Serena and Venus Williams are on opposite sides of the draw, with Serena as the No. 1 seed and Venus the No. 2. With that in mind, I don’t expect either one to take the title.

Venus has never had spectacular results on clay, and I predict her to lose to No. 15 seed, Aravane Rezai, in the fourth round. Rezai defeated Venus in the finals in Madrid, last week. I look for Serena to only make it one round further than her older sister, with Maria Sharapova defeating her in the quarters.

I look for the young Dane; Caroline Wozniacki to make it to the finals to battle it out with Sharapova, in what would be her second Grand Slam final. In the quarterfinals, I predict she will defeat defending champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who hasn’t had any outstanding results since she hoisted the French Open trophy, last year. The only other contenders I see are No. 4 Jelena Jankovic and No. 22 Justine Henin, in her first French Open, since she retired from professional tennis in 2008. I expect both to fall victim to Sharapova.

In the Men’s Singles draw, there are a lot of interesting storylines. The first one is obviously Roger Federer. He hasn’t won a title since taking the Australian Open in January and has lost early in the more prestigious tournaments, up until making it to the finals in Madrid, last week (l. to Nadal). I expect a repeat of the Madrid result, with Nadal defeating Federer in the finals.

However, there are a lot of formidable opponents in Federer’s way. Janko Tipsarevic in the second round, either Ernests Gulbis or last year’s finalist, Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. I look forward to seeing how Federer handles being a first-time defending champion in Paris.

Those two however, are the only in the top five players I expect to make it to the final weekend. Andy Murray has a tough first round against Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, who just ended an almost three-year title drought by defeating Fernando Verdasco in Nice, today. In the quarterfinals, I predict No. 3 Novak Djokovic to lose to one of the many tenacious Spaniards, David Ferrer.

Everyone anticipates how the Americans will do at the French Open. In the first round, one of them will be forced to bow out, in a battle between Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey. Querrey defeated fellow American, John Isner to take the Serbian Open title, two weeks ago. Look for Djokovic to take down Querrey, as well as Gasquet over Isner and Ferrer over Roddick, all in the 4th round. Going in, Roddick doesn’t have any clay-court preparation, due to illness and “personal reasons” keeping him from competition the last few weeks. The only Americans I see making it deep in the tournament are Bob and Mike Bryan. While the Doubles draws aren’t out yet, I predict them to break the tie with Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, for the All-Time Doubles Titles record.

The French Open 2010 promises to be a compelling tournament and I for one can’t wait to see what unfolds. The players will start sliding on the red clay tomorrow at 5 a.m. EST.