French Open 2011: Five Sleepers Going into Week 2 at Roland Garros
The first week's worth of play at the 2011 French Open is complete and while a slew of favorites in the women's draw have already boarded their flights home, the men's draw has gone mostly true to form.
Nevertheless, there are a slew of dangerous sleepers that remain in both the men's and women's singles draws that plan on making the best of this golden opportunity at a major championship.
Here are my thoughts on the top five most dangerous sleepers going into the second week of the tournament.
5. Gael Monfils
If he can overcome a tough test against the seventh-seeded David Ferrer, Gael Monfils looks to have the game to make a deep run on the dirt.
While the ninth-seeded Frenchman has always had the talent to do well in a major, he typically has not had the mental toughness necessary to succeed in big matches.
If he seals the deal against Ferrer, Monfils will be faced with a tough test in the next round, as he will battle the third-seeded Roger Federer, but Monfils has shown throughout this tournament that he has the game to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.
Monfils, who is one of the most athletic players on tour, has a 1-5 record against Federer, but he did win their last meeting, which was a close three set battle at last year's Masters tournament in Paris.
If Federer is caught looking to the upcoming rounds, this hometown boy could definitely give him a run for his money.
4. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Prior to this tournament, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's best showing in a major was the third round, which she had accomplished both at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Now that she has surpassed that mark, the 14th-seeded Russian will look to continue her hot streak against defending champion Francesca Schiavone, who narrowly escaped a fourth-round defeat at the hands of Jelena Jankovic.
Pavlyuchenkova's powerful swings have packed a punch this week, as she has been able to grind down her opponents, including third-seeded Vera Zvonareva, who she defeated in the fourth round.
Schiavone leads their head-to-head matchups at 2-1, but the Russian looks to be in-form, and her powerful groundstrokes can definitely cause Schiavone some trouble.
3. Viktor Troicki
A red hot player, playing the best tennis of his life is set to face an injured top-five player. Sounds like the formula for an upset to me.
One of the members of the champion Serbian Davis Cup team from last year, Viktor Troicki has long been overshadowed by his countryman, Novak Djokovic.
He has risen to his career-high world ranking of 15 just about as quietly as he has moved through this tournament. After defeating 21st-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov, this rising Serbian star looks to give fourth-seeded Andy Murray all that he can handle.
Although Troicki has lost to Murray in each of their three previous meetings, they have never played each other on clay. Furthermore, Murray clearly rolled his ankle in his previous match against Michael Berrer, which could play a huge role in his match against Troicki.
Certainly, this is the forgotten Serb's best chance yet to make a statement at a major.
2. Alejandro Falla
Yes, you read that right, the 120th-ranked Alejandro Falla still remains in the men's draw at Roland Garros, and boy does he have a dream draw awaiting him.
The Columbian-born Falla has done nothing other than stack up solid wins in order to advance to the fourth round. After defeating the 46th-ranked Potito Starace, he notched a win over the 19th-ranked Florian Mayer before staging a comeback to defeat Lukasz Kubot in the third round.
His fourth-round opponent will be the Argentinian veteran Juan Ignacio Chela, whom Falla has defeated on clay in the past. If he can survive that match, Falla will face the winner of Andy Murray-Viktor Troicki.
Not only does the 120th-ranked Falla have a definite chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, but he might even be able to play his way into the semis. Imagine that!
1. Svetlana Kuznetsova
The Russian veteran hasn't had the most challenging draw to this point, but with the Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva both being bounced early, she is certainly one of the players to watch in a wide open draw.
Put it this way, if the draw as it stands holds to form (which, of course, won't happen...it is the WTA after all), Kuznetsova's potential opponents would be Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals, followed by Francesca Schiavone and Victoria Azarenka. This is important to note because her head-to-head record against those women are as follows:
Against Bartoli: 2-1 Kuznetsova
Against Schiavone: 9-5 Kuznetsova
Against Azarenka: 4-1 Kuznetsova
This former champ has been flying under the radar up to this point, but she definitely has the potential to make a statement during the second week of the French Open.