French Open 2013: Power Ranking Big 3's Title Chances

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IMay 20, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy in the men's singles final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day 16 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal has announced himself as the clear-cut man to beat at the French Open. This is no surprise. Nadal's legendary clay-court game has allowed him to dominate at Roland Garros over the years. 

Still, as good as Rafa's been on clay, we can't just hand him the title. 

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer can never be counted out. 

So, as the French Open gears up to start in week, here is how I rank the chances of these three legends as they prepare for the next major. 

No. 3: Roger Federer

Babolat @babolat

7 tournaments. 7 finals. Believe in #VAM8S. @RafaelNadal. http://t.co/d4YXDkCShQ

Roger Federer isn't showing anything that suggest he can handle Djokovic or Nadal on clay, or even get to that point for that matter.

Federer lost to Tomas Berdych in Dubai's semifinals, Nadal in the quarterfinals of Indian Wells, and then in Madrid he fell to Kei Nishikori in just Round 3.

This past Sunday, we were offered a glimpse of what could be to come when Nadal easily handled him in straight at the Rome Masters. 

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However, let's not get to caught up in the doom and gloom train. At this point of his career, Federer is more about gearing up for the majors than he is winning every event. And he's shown flashes of dominance.  

Before losing to Nadal, he rolled through the early rounds and triumphed over the elite serve of world No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz.

I expect a great run by Federer, but I still don't think he can handle either of the next two. 

No. 2: Novak Djokovic 

Novak Djokovic has been his usually dominant self. He took the Australian Open earlier in the year, and hasn't slowed down since.

He is 26-3 this year, and that includes a win that should give him supreme confidence heading into the French. That came in the Monte Carlo Masters as he took down eight-time defending champ Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6.

However, since beating Nadal, the two have largely been going in different directions, which is why Nole is second on this list.

Djokovic suffered consecutive defeats. The first came in the second round of the Madrid Open to Grigor Dimitrov and then to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open. 

These two played in a memorable match last year when Djokovic appeared headed to victory until rain delays saw momentum side with Nadal. 

I expect another great match this year, but I'm not going to bet against our next great. 

No. 1: Rafael Nadal

It is hard to find a better bet in sports than Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. He's won seven of the past eight majors at Roland Garros. In fact, he's lost just one match there ever, and he's won 52 of them. 

This year has been a tad different though. Nadal began this year in February after a seven-month layoff with a knee injury. 

You would never know that by watching him now. He is 31-2 on the year, which includes going 28-2 on the red stuff. All Nadal has done since coming back is make the finals in every tournament he's entered. 

Going back to the Barcelona Open, Nadal hasn't lost a match. 

He is looking better the further away he gets from his knee injury, and he won't be beaten at the French. 


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