Watch out, seeds. With numerous first-timers and younger players who have just ascended into the top 32, look for many of the lower-seeded players to be upset. Factor in the difficulty many traditional hard-court players have transitioning to clay and expect this year to be ugly.
Not everyone can live up to the hype of his seeding and play his best on the biggest of stages. For every Nadal, Federer and Djokovic there are a dozen higher seeds who bow out unceremoniously before it was their time.
Here are a list of 10 seeds who are prime targets to be upset.
The brutal truth is that the red clay simply doesn't suit the big-serving, power-hitting American's game. At 6'6", Querrey doesn't have the consistency to stay in long rallies nor the agility and speed to keep up. With the pop of his serve and forehand combination deadened on the slower clay, Querrey has few alternatives and no contingency plan to survive.
He will be lucky to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber. Anything beyond the first round will be an accomplishment. Querrey can hardly wait for the clay-court season to end so he can start dominating on grass. Bring on Wimbledon.
How exactly is Verdasco seeded 16th when his first-round opponent, Juan Monaco, has a 6-2 lifetime record against the Spaniard? Surely that is a sign of trouble. The left-handed clay-court specialist has had a fine year by most players' standards; however, his best results have surprisingly come on the hard courts.
A run to the finals in Estoril, Portugal aside, Verdasco has struggled losing in the first round in three of his past five events. While facing his nemesis Monaco, expect that streak to continue. Adios, amigo.
Kevin Anderson barely got the last seed after higher-ranked Andy Roddick withdrew with a shoulder injury. Just because he lucked out doesn't mean he deserves it. At least not on clay.
After a shocking run to the quarterfinals of the Miami Masters Series, Anderson has regressed to his previous middling performances reaching only one more quarterfinals and posting an unimpressive 4-5 record since.
More worrying still is that he was forced to withdraw from his last match two weeks ago in Rome.
Nicolas Mahut, a crafty French veteran, will look to take full advantage of drawing such a weak seed and should be able to capitalize pulling an upset.
Florian Mayer is having an incredible year. Only a week ago he reached his new career high in the rankings (No. 21) after reaching the quarterfinals of the Masters Series in Rome.
Achieving your best ranking on the eve of a Grand Slam usually means one of two things:
1. You are primed for a breakout and will use the Grand Slam to launch up the rankings.
2. You are about to suffer an embarrassing setback.
Unfortunately for Mayer, signs point to No. 2 for a few reasons. Only once has Mayer made it past the first round at Roland Garros and that was way back in 2004. Secondly, if he clears the first hurdle, Mayer would face two seasoned clay-court specialists in either Potito Starace or Alejandro Falla. Thirdly, at 6'3" with a game built around power, Mayer isn't cut out to battle on the clay.
This is the classic case of a hard-court player climbing the leaderboard rankings early during the hard-court season, only to end up with an inflated seed at the French Open. Viktor Troicki is a hard-court player and a good one at that.
He is a name to be reckoned with and will do some serious damage on tour this summer, but he won't get far here in Paris. Troicki has what appears to be a pretty manageable draw; too bad he won't be able to take advantage of it.
If he gets out of the first round, look for veteran clay-courter Oliver Rochus to exploit Troicki's lack of clay-court experience and send the Serb packing far earlier than a 15th seed should.
It's hard to say that Tomas Berdych is overrated. He's not, but he is over-seeded. Reaching six quarterfinals and two semifinals is certainly impressive. I am nitpicking here but sixth is too high for the dynamite Czech, especially when guys such as David Ferrer, Gael Monfils, Nicolas Almagro and even Richard Gasquet are seeded below him.
Although Berdych did pull off an unlikely run to the semifinals in Paris last year, don't expect such a repeat again. Berdych should do well in Paris but the other favorites and those listed above should outperform Berdych, who is playing on his least favorite surface.
Like his fellow Serbian compatriot Troicki, Tipsarevic's game is built for hard courts. In fact he despises clay so much that he chose not to enter the Masters Series events in either Rome or Spain. The one he did play in, Monte Carlo, he lost in the first round.
A strong player, Tipsarevic is probably entering with the mindset of just getting through the clay-court season so he can focus on his strengths.
Even if he does put forth the effort, he won't last long as Federer looms in the third round.
His best win to date was a walkover against Thomas Berdych early in the season. That shouldn't inspire confidence heading into the French Open. A 5-4 clay-court record doesn't help much either. Tsonga will no doubt be buoyed by the home crowd; however, a tough draw and little rhythm heading into the French Open mean that he has little chance of advancing deep into the tournament.
By far the most unheralded player in the top 10, Melzer is the best player most people have never heard of. However, after weakly exiting the Masters Series in Madrid, losing in his first-round match to Daniel Gimeno-Traver, followed by having to retire the following week in the first round of the Rome Masters Series against Florian Mayer, many wonder whether Melzer is suffering from a more serious injury that will render him unable to go the distance in a grueling five-setter.
With the questions lingering and plenty of talented dirtballers behind him in the rankings, it is fair to say Melzer is too highly ranked, at least for now.
It was the perfect storm: a series of injuries followed by a loss of confidence left the one-time top-10 player questioning his desire and abilities to get back on top.
After rededicating himself, Baghdatis slowly climbed up the rankings last season. This season however, Baghdatis is again mired in a slump. In six of his last eight tournaments Baghdatis has lost his first match. In the other two he only advanced one round before being bounced quickly thereafter.
How he is still ranked at all is a complete and utter mystery. He hasn't reached a quarterfinal at any event since February, has only beaten two players inside the top 50 all season and has pulled out of two matches citing injury.
Overall, his 2011 record is a distasteful 8-11. To make matters worse for Baghdatis, he struggles mightily on clay. Needless to say, his loyal throngs of supporters should not expect him to last long. Another first-round exit would not be surprising in the least.