Breaking Down the Red-Hot Race for Men's Seeding at the 2015 French Open 

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett@@merlisaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2015

Breaking Down the Red-Hot Race for Men's Seeding at the 2015 French Open 

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    Stan Wawrinka reacts to winning the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
    Stan Wawrinka reacts to winning the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.Associated Press

    With a series of ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments between now and the 2015 French Open, expect serious jockeying for position among players in the Top 10.

    Exactly 1,000 points separates No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 8 Tomas Berdych in the ATP rankings.  

    The logjam in the top 10 sets up a fierce battle for seeding ahead of Roland Garros. 

    Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1, has 13,045 points. He's so far ahead of the pack that even with titles to defend in Indian Wells and Miami, Djokovic can coast to the No. 1 seed at Roland Garros. Roger Federer, ranked No. 2, has 9,205 points, a comfortable enough lead that he's decided to skip Miami. 

    The real fight is happening between Nos. 3 through 8. Rafael Nadal moved ahead of Murray to No. 3. Fewer than 300 points separates Nadal from Murray. 

    With so many tournaments on the schedule, the race is on to capitalize on the treasure trove of points available between now and spring. Almost every player in the logjam, even No. 9 David Ferrer—although a long shot—has a chance to accumulate enough points to land among the top four.

    Here's a breakdown of the red-hot race taking place for seeding at the French Open. 

No. 8 Tomas Berdych

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    Tomas Berdcyh hits a backhand in a match in Rotterdam.
    Tomas Berdcyh hits a backhand in a match in Rotterdam.Patrick Post/Associated Press

    Despite failing to defend his title in Rotterdam, Berdych is in a good position heading toward the French Open. That's because he had a fairly uneven run up to Roland Garros last year. He reached the finals in Dubai, but loss his opening round match at Indian Wells. He also lost in the round of 16 in Madrid. 

    Any Masters 1000 win would give Berdych a boost. However, he would benefit most from consistent runs into the quarters or better in several tournaments. He must avoid early exits in Dubai, or Miami, where he reached the semifinals. 

No. 7 Stan Wawrinka

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    Stan Wawrinka holds trophy after winning the 2015 ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
    Stan Wawrinka holds trophy after winning the 2015 ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.Associated Press

    Wawrinka took a huge hit at the Australian Open when he failed to defend his title. But he rebounded nicely with a win at Rotterdam.

    Stan the Man can make up some serious ground in the next couple of months. 

    Except for a surprise win at Monte Carlo, Wawrinka didn't do jack leading up to the French Open last year. He bumbled and stumbled so badly through the spring tournaments that he was already being labeled a one-hit wonder. 

    This year, Wawrinka is No. 2, behind Djokovic, in the Emirates ATP Race to London. A string of late-round runs could put Wawrinka back in the top five. 

No. 6 Milos Raonic

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    Milos Raonic hits a volley in a match during the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
    Milos Raonic hits a volley in a match during the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.Associated Press

    Milos Raonic, No. 6, is at his career high. To make a push into the top five, Raonic has added a few tournaments to his schedule. He reached the semifinals in Rotterdam and is playing in Marseille this week. So is Wawrinka. 

    Last year, Raonic didn't play in any tournaments post-Aussie Open, until Indian Wells. However, he reached the quarters or better in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Portugal and Rome. That's a ton of points to defend. Meanwhile, he has to hope No. 5 Kei Nishikori slips up. Only 225 points separates the two. 

No. 5 Kei Nishikori

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    Kei Nishikori during the 2015 Memphis Open.
    Kei Nishikori during the 2015 Memphis Open.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Nishikori defended his title in Memphis.

    The biggest obstacle standing between him and a top-four seed could be his health. Last year, Nishikori withdrew from Miami right after reaching the semifinals. He retired in his final against Nadal in Madrid. He skipped Monte Carlo and opted for Barcelona, where he won. 

    If Nishikori, who trails Murray by 255 points, can stay healthy, he may even have a chance at overtaking Nadal.

    Nadal has to defend titles in Rio and Madrid, as well as points earned for reaching the final in Miami. 

No. 4 Andy Murray

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    Andy Murray tosses the ball during his serve at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.
    Andy Murray tosses the ball during his serve at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.Associated Press

    Murray has few points to defend. He's much healthier than he was last year, when he was still recovering from back surgery. Already playing better this year, Murray remains not quite back to his 2013 championship form.

    Indian Wells and Miami are his best chances to make a run on points. Once the tour moves to clay, Murray, who has yet to win a clay-court title, may struggle. 

No. 3 Rafael Nadal

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    Rafael Nadal slides to make a play on the ball during the 2015 Australian Open.
    Rafael Nadal slides to make a play on the ball during the 2015 Australian Open.Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

    Nadal is used to competing for No.1 instead of trying to stay in the top five.

    However, fighting off the pack is where he finds himself. The good news for Nadal is that soon he'll have plenty of clay-court tournaments to dominate. In the meantime, he'll have to duke it out on the hard courts in Indian Wells and Miami. 

    Unlike Federer, Nadal can ill-afford to skip tournaments. He's got a slew of players trying to knock him off his perch prior to Roland Garros. 

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