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French Open 2015: Predictions for Top Stars in Monday's Singles Draw

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2015

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 24:  Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a forehand as he warms up with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on day one of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roger Federer has already booked his place in the second round of the 2015 French Open. He's been joined by Stanislas Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Now it's the turn of Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych to make their mark in Paris. The former faces Argentine Facundo Arguello, while Berdych will meet Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

One of the highlights for the home fans at Roland Garros will be the all-French tilt between Gael Monfils and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Not many home players are fancied at this tournament, but this domestic tussle should still provide plenty of excitement and wow the crowds.

Here's a closer look at how some of the top stars in Monday's singles draw will fare:

No. 3 Andy Murray vs. Facundo Arguello

There was a time when clay courts didn't bring out the best in Murray. But that's since changed following an impressive run of 10 wins in a row on clay, per the Mirror's Jacob Murtagh. He noted how Murray proved his chops on the harder surface after winning tournaments in both Munich and Madrid.

Murray has made great strides on clay.
Murray has made great strides on clay.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press/Associated Press

The latter victory included seeing off clay-court master Rafael Nadal. That's a win Murray's former coach Mark Petchey believes gives Murray "a huge amount of confidence" for the challenges at Roland Garros, per Press Association Sport reporter Tom Allnutt via the Daily Mail.

More power and a greater attacking mentality have changed Murray's game, something Petchey believes is vital on clay: "You can't just sit back and defend on clay. It looks like he's going after people's second serve more than he has done previously."

But as much as a more tenacious approach to attacking points may have helped Murray, another, certainly different, method is also helping. Specifically, Murray is a more flexible player since he took up pilates, per BBC Sport's Tennis Correspondent Russell Fuller.

A tenacious Murray moving more freely around the court spells major trouble for unseeded Arguello. Expect the Scot to make quick work of his overmatched opponent.

Prediction: Murray wins in straight sets.

No. 4 Tomas Berdych vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

Berdych is a pretty cagey customer who always seems to hang around near the end of tournaments. The Czech Republic player is also capable of springing an upset, as he proved by shocking Nadal at the Australian Open earlier this year, per MailOnline writer Mike Dickson.

Murray dispatched Berdych in the Australian Open semi-final, but the Czech later reached the final of the Monte Carlo Open, only to be beaten by Novak Djokovic. Berdych can certainly be inconsistent, but he'll still have too much for Nishioka.

Berdych doesn't always deliver, but he has the talent to win in Paris.
Berdych doesn't always deliver, but he has the talent to win in Paris.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Earlier this year, Petchey credited the Czech's powerful striking style, per Sky Sports. That doesn't always suit clay, but his heavy hitting will overwhelm his unfancied opponent.

Berdych usually has a slip-up somewhere in his game. But even a brief dip won't be enough to help Nishioka score what would be a major upset.

Prediction: Berdych wins in four sets.

Kaia Kanepi vs. No. 2 Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova should begin her bid to defend her 2014 French Open title in Paris in dominant fashion against Kaia Kanepi. Sports Illustrated's Courtney Nguyen has stated how Sharapova "has proven herself to be the most reliable winner on clay." She sees Sharapova as the favourite at Roland Garros, despite the presence of Serena Williams.

Sharapova excels on clay.
Sharapova excels on clay.Francois Mori/Associated Press

It's a reasonable assumption given how well Sharapova has taken to clay throughout her career. Writing for ESPNW, Nick McCarvel noted how the Russian has grown more comfortable moving on the tougher surface.

That comfort is sure to play a major part in Sharapova's quest for success at Roland Garros. The slower surface calls for more subtle shots and a generally more deliberate game.

As one of the leading forces of women's tennis, Sharapova will have too much nous for Kanepi. The Estonian certainly drew a tough first draw.

It's one she'll lose after a systematic dismantling by a more patient Sharapova at home on clay.

Prediction: Sharapova wins in straight sets.

This is a particularly toughly contested French Open. But even greater competition doesn't mean there'll be shocks in the latest draw.

Instead, the top players will still hold sway. Berdych is always a little tough to predict, but Murray and Sharapova are definitely strong contenders to win their overall respective events in Paris.

Both are acclimatised to the demands of clay, with Murray a little later to the party, but still increasingly capable on the slow stuff.

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