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French Open draw: good news for Serena, Federer; bad for Djokovic

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Serena Williams

Serena Williams is looking to win her second French Open and first since 2002. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)

The French Open draws were released on Friday, and the big news came on the men’s side. No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Rafael Nadal were put into the same half, meaning they will not meet in a second straight Paris final. You can view the men’s draw here and the women’s draw here. Looking at the brackets, here are five winners and five losers as we head into the first round, which begins Sunday.

French Open Preview: Men’s Seed Report | Women’s Seed Report | Burning Questions

Winners

Serena Williams (No. 1 seed): As Serena told me in Rome last week, her most difficult opponent in Paris is the lady in the mirror. Besides that lady, no one who could possibly pose a threat is in Williams’ half of the draw. Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Sam Stosur, Jelena Jankovic and Petra Kvitova landed in Sharapova’s half. No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska is the other top seed in Williams’ half, and she’s struggled mightily through the clay season, as has 10th-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who hasn’t won a match on red clay all year. Last year’s finalist, No 5 Sara Errani, is a crafty clay-courter, but Williams had no problems with her in Madrid, beating the Italian 7-5, 6-2.

Roger Federer (No. 2 seed): No man or woman was blessed with a better draw than Federer, who already received a seed bump with Andy Murray’s withdrawal. He won’t have to play Djokovic or Nadal until the final, and he gets qualifiers in the first two rounds. His projected third-round opponent, No. 30 Julien Benneteau, who beat Federer in Rotterdam in February, hasn’t won back-to-back matches since, compiling a 3-8 record. The highest seed he could face in the fourth round is No. 15 Gilles Simon, whom he beat 6-1, 6-2 last week in Rome, and then No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who’s no threat to him on clay. His potential semifinal opponent? David Ferrer. Ferrer’s career record against Federer? 0-14.

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David Ferrer (No. 4 seed): Drawn into Federer’s weak half, the highest seed Ferrer could face before the quarterfinals is No. 14 Milos Raonic, against whom he’s undefeated. His toughest potential quarterfinal opponent is No. 5 Tomas Berdych, but that assumes Berdych can come through his nightmare draw, which sees him open against Gael Monfils and possibly play Ernests Gulbis in the second round. The Spaniard is in good shape to defend last year’s semifinal appearance.

Ana Ivanovic (No. 14 seed): Ivanovic has a clean shot to the quarterfinals and a very good chance for her first semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam since she won the French Open in 2008. Her projected third-round opponent, No. 24 Julia Goerges, has been struggling. I would also be surprised if Radwanska or Venus Williams, either of whom she could face in the fourth round, are still in the tournament by then. Barring a big upset, she’ll face Errani in the quarterfinals, a very winnable match. The two have gone the full three sets in their last two meetings, Errani winning both.

Everyone in the Tommy Haas-Janko Tipsarevic section: The other half of Djokovic’s quarter is full of question marks. It’s a huge opportunity for the 16 men who lucked out and got placed here. The four seeds in the section, Tipsarevic, Haas, John Isner and Mikhail Youzhny are all capable of making the quarterfinals or losing in the first round. Along with those names are Madrid Open semifinalist Pablo Andujar and an improved Fernando Verdasco. One to keep an eye on here is Ryan Harrison. Often cursed by brutal draws that see him facing the top 10 in the early rounds, this is is a huge opportunity for him to finally make the third round of a major. He opens against Andrey Kuznetsov and could play a slumping Isner in the second round.

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Losers

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic may have to beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer back to back to win his first French Open. (Antoine Couvercelle/Tennis Magazine/Icon SMI)

Novak Djokovic (No. 1 seed): It doesn’t really matter that Nadal was drawn into Djokovic’s section. The two were going to have to play each other at some point to get to the trophy. But it’s still a shame when the “real final” between the two best clay-courters in the game isn’t the actual final, and a Djokovic loss would mean he fails to defend his 2012 final appearance through sheer luck of the draw. Aside from having to possibly beat both Nadal and Federer to win his first French Open title, he could also get a rematch with No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov in the third round and No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber, the man who beat him here in 2009, in the fourth round. Those should be straightforward wins for Djokovic, but it could have been a lot easier.

Tomas Berdych (No. 5 seed): They say the key to doing well at the Slams is to expend as little energy as possible in the early rounds. That’s unlikely for Berdych, who would have been a darkhorse pick if not for his draw. The Czech No. 1 has to be cursing the tennis gods after drawing two of the most dangerous floaters in the first two rounds. Berdych, coming off a strong showing in Rome where he beat Djokovic, will have to get past Monfils in the first round and potentially Gulbis in the second.  That said, if he can get through these early rounds easily (Gulbis and Monfils are the opposite of reliable), he has the ability to beat Ferrer and Federer on clay. So who knows? Maybe he really is the darkhorse.

Li Na (No. 6 seed): A little help. A little help is all Li needed to get herself going at Roland Garros, but she’ll have to be sharp from her first match, where she’s drawn Anabel Medina Garrigues, a crafty clay-courter who infamous for trying to gain an advantage against Serena in Madrid by brazenly fluffing balls during the changeover. Li could also face the streaking Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is in the form of her life right now and primed for a big upset. Then, it’s No. 27 Yaroslava Shvedova and No. 12 Maria Kirilenko just to get to the quarterfinals, where she’s projected to face No. 3 Victoria Azarenka. In fact, to win her second French Open title, Li would likely have to beat Azarenka, Sharapova and then Serena. Not even Carlos Rodriguez could be zen about that draw.

Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 9 seed): He’s having a stellar year and finally won his first title in two years in Portugal this month, beating Ferrer in the final, and then scored two top-10 wins to make his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Madrid, losing to Nadal. He’s primed for a run in Paris, but he’s in Djokovic’s half and more specifically Nadal’s quarter with a potential third round against No. 21 Jerzy Janowicz and a fourth round with No. 7 Richard Gasquet.

Jelena Jankovic (No. 18 seed): There are few times that I think a player has a better shot at Serena than Sharapova. This is one of those times. I’ve been tapping Jankovic as a French Open darkhorse, but the draw doesn’t offer much help. In Sharapova’s quarter, Jankovic opens against Daniela Hantuchova, who despite being now ranked No. 60, is still capable of top-15 tennis, and then either Karolina Pliskova or Garbine Muguruza, both talented youngsters who can play on clay. A third-round match against Sam Stosur looms, as does a fourth-rounder against Petra Kvitova, and then a potential quarterfinal against Sharapova, who has owned her for years.

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  • Published On May 24, 2013
  • 10 comments
    Bahmama
    Bahmama

    No, if Roger was 3 and Rafa was 4, they would be on opposite sides of the draw cos Andy would be 2. Also Roger's bump to 2 could have been detrimental to him cos then Rafa could have landed on his side as no.3 instead of Djokovoc's.

    Curtos07
    Curtos07

    Ana couldn't have asked for a better draw. Anything less than a quarterfinal would be a big disappointment. She has reached at least the fourth round in five of her last six slams, but only won once (Pironkova at the US Open). It has been five years since Ana won the French Open, and there is no better chance to make a deep run again than there is right now. I fear she will mess this up somehow. I would be really happy with her reaching the quarters, ecstatic if she made the semis. Disappointed with anything less than that. 

    Moo_1989
    Moo_1989

    I'm going for Serena and Djokovic to win the titles.  Serena has a lot of pressure on her shoulders, but I think she will have learnt a lot from that match with Razzano last year and won't make the same mistakes.  I think it will be Sharapova in the final, who has another extremely favourable draw.  I fancy Li to have the upper hand over Azarenka in the Quarters (assuming they meet) and predict that Ivanovic will make the semis and JJ to make the quarters.  Most looking forward to Wozniacki-Robson and Kerber-Barthel in R1, feeling almost too confident that Robson will beat Caro!

     

    In the mens, got a feeling Djokovic will take out Nadal in the semis, but not quite sure why!  He showed at Monte-Carlo that he can really rival the Spaniard on this surface and i don't think the early losses at Madrid and Rome will matter.  Federer has a gem of a draw and really should make the final.  I fancy a few upsets in the men and am backing Gulbis to take out Berdych and make the quarters.  I also fancy Haas and Wawrinka to make the quarters.

     

    Can't wait for it all to get started!

    rashadnatari
    rashadnatari

    Serena has Monica, who is the prototypical claycourt player that could challenge her on this surface if she isn't paying attention. Garcia in a possible second round match could be interesting too.  Pavlyuchenkova is a challenge on paper but Serena shouldn't struggle much against her. Otherwise, Errani is likely to be her toughest opponent in this tournament. My general feeling, however, is that given her form and desire to win this event, Serena's draw was always going to be irrelevant. 

    JasonRaphael
    JasonRaphael

    WOW. Serena has a seriously super-easy draw. FINALLY. Literally, no one in her HALF of the entire top-half of the Draw comes anywhere close to being as good as her. No one. All the serious clay-courters and other top players (especially of note) are all in the bottom half. Sharapova...is NOT coming out of that bottom half. Sorry. Serena is the FAR and CLEAR favorite. Wow, I can't believe she got a favorable draw for once. The only person of clay-court worth in her entire half is Errani...and we just saw Serena blow her off the court again and every time they play. Errani just has nothing, nothing at all to trouble Serena.

     

    Serena will have to stay focused of course. And have no stupid starts. But baring the hand of God Himself stopping her...with THIS draw?!...there is no reason...seriously why Serena shouldn't win. The way is truly paved for her. Wow. I'm just literally in shock. I've never, ever seen her "luck up" and get such a favorable draw before. Wow.

     

    Bahmama
    Bahmama

    Courtney, in case you didn't notice, Rafa was also blessed with a seed bump courtesy of Andy Murray.  In fact, everybody below Djokovic was, so don't make it seem as if only Federer benefited from this.  And, it's about time Federer gets what you call a weak draw.  He's more often the one you should place in the loser category, but of course, you never do.

    JasonRaphael
    JasonRaphael

     @rashadnatari Good points. The thing with Garcia (who may not even win her first round) and especially Pavlyuchenkova...is that they are incredibly inconsistent. So Serena just may literally play no-named (not well known) players for the first 3 or 4 rounds. That's how wide open her side of the Draw is. Serena also beat Pavlyuchenkova for the Brisbane title. Pavy is a great player. A young Davenport, if you will. But she is of course nowhere near Serena's level. On top of that, Pavy trains at the same Paris Academy that Serena does! So literally...they're class-mates if you will. Serena knows Pavy's game (and so does Serena's coach) inside out. She poses the least threat of anyone in that side of the draw to Serena, just because of her close proximity to Serena. And again, they played in a Final (good on Pavy to get there!) and Serena defeated her quickly and easily in Brisbane.

    Lizzie98
    Lizzie98

    That is incorrect.  Rafa would have been 4, and got a seed bump to 3, which is really no different.  With either the 3 or 4 seed he could have been in either half of the draw.  The benefit for Federer is that the 2 seed automatically put him in the half opposite of Djokovic. 

    Bahmama
    Bahmama

    I'm not obtuse, I understand that, and it is factually correct that Rafa got a seed bump.

    Lizzie98
    Lizzie98

     @Bahmama

     Yes, he did, but he could still have been drawn on either side of the draw at 3 or 4.  The seed bump had no real benefit.  So the seed bump was an actual tangible benefit to Federer, but it was not to Rafa.  Your initial complaint that was "don't make it seem as if only Federed benefited from this.".  Rafa got a seed bump, but no benefit.  Ferrer, moving from 5 to 4, gained way more from the seed change than Rafa.