As the world is looking forward to how this year’s Roland Garros competition unfolds, we take a quick sneak preview of the men’s favourites to win the 2019 French Open. Most of the old guard are entered, including the likes of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal but there are some exciting younger players to watch out for as well.
Fresh from getting through to the semi-final of the Rome Open, the young Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas is being tipped as the dark horse to win the French Open. It took all of Rafael Nadal’s skill and determination to beat the 20-year-old, in the semi, which he did in two straight sets with an emphatic 6-3, 6-4.
But as he prepares to get his 2019 Roland Garros bid underway, Tsitsipas can look back on beating Nadal just a few days ago in the semi-final of the Madrid Open. Beating the Spaniard on his home soil is a rare achievement indeed and will give him added confidence.
Djokovic is currently number one in the world rankings although he has been struggling to find his best form, having only got through to one quarter-final in the first three Masters’ 1000 events of the year.
But you can’t keep a great tennis player down for long, as the 32-year-old Serb clearly demonstrated by winning the Madrid Open earlier this month without dropping a single set. He beat the young pretender, Stefanos Tsitispas (who may not be a pretender for much longer) in the final 6-3, 6-4, having knocked out Dominic Thiem.
Djokovic’s victory gave the Serbian his third Madrid Open title. He won his first in 2011 when he beat Rafael Nadal, and his second in 2016 when he defeated Andy Murray. The third win saw him equal the record of 33 Masters 1000 titles held by Majorcan born Nadal. His return to top form positions him nicely to be a strong contender for the French Open crown.
Whatever the competition, you cannot ignore the great Roger Federer. He might have reached the grand-old-age of 37, but like a fine wine, his maturity and appeal linger on. But for all his 20 major tennis titles, the Swiss has only won the French Open once, and that was back in 2009 when he was a spritely 27-year-old.
Roland Garros will be his first outing on clay since 2016. There is some speculation that he has been spurred on to enter this competition again because of the danger of Messrs Djokovic and Nadal catching up with his record of 20 major wins. He could well put a little more distance between him and his rivals by denying them this title and adding it to his own private tally.
All eyes will, of course, be on Rafael Nadal. Clay is his favourite surface. But by his own very high standards he hasn’t had the best start to the season. He has lost in three semi-finals. Fabio Fognini beat him in Monte Carlo; Moninic Thiem triumphed over him in Barcelona, and Stefanos Tsitsipas got the better of him in Madrid. He also lost to Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open.
But you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the Spaniard has taken the Roland Garros crown on 11 previous occasions. Add to that his recent victory over world number one Novak Djokovic and it will give him all the confidence he needs to close that gap on Federer by winning his 18th major.
It’s all shaping up quite nicely to be a humdinger of a competition. Don’t miss it.