Last season, the 2010 French Open marked the culmination of a player sweeping the major titles of the entire clay-court season––the final act of the Tao of Nadal.
No man quite dominated the red dirt so completely since Bjorn Borg did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
That said, no individual has yet to equal Chris Evert's record on clay—man or woman—by winning 125 consecutive matches on the red dirt and seven French Open titles in nine finals appearances.
Is it possible that Nadal could surpass even the ice maiden?
There are few mysteries abounding about the results on clay in 2011. If Nadal can hobble onto the court, then he will no doubt win, according to the odds makers.
The only unknowns come on the women's side of the draw, where no one stands out as a favorite to win. In fact, the bookies remain fairly clueless.
Past winners like Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova remain mired in unending slumps punctuated by an unexpected win or two along the way.
Francesca Schiavone, who won it last year over the woman who was supposed to win, Samantha Stosur, may be the best bet.
The sure thing about watching the French Open is that it is not pretty. Play on the red dirt can be long and ugly on a hot afternoon, with unending rallies from the baseline. It often becomes truly survival of the fittest.
So selecting who will be standing holding the trophies at the end of the French Open can be a futile exercise. But here are the favorites and where they stand at the beginning of May...