The French Championships, known as the French Open since 1968 and commonly referred to as Roland-Garros, is the second Major of the year and it is rapidly approaching. It’s the tournament that has given American players the most fits. No American man has won it since Andre Agassi in 1999. Michael Chang (1989) and Jim Courier (1991 &1992) are the other two American men to have won it since 1968. American women on the other hand seem to thrive on the red clay. During the 70’s and 80’s American women dominated: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert (7 titles) and Martina Navratilova. Jennifer Capriati won it in 2001 and Serena Williams came on the scene in 2002 and is the defending champion.
No one player has dominated the event like the Spaniard, Rafael Nadal. He won it on his first try in 2005, defeating  Roger Federer in the semifinals. He held the title for four consecutive years until that strange defeat in the round of sixteen at the hands of  Robin Soderling in 2009. Everyone was in shock; however, I have always maintained that physical as well as emotional factors contributed to that loss. Nadal regained the throne in 2010 and held it for five consecutive years until  Novak Djokovic dethroned him in the quarterfinals last year. It was a very sad day in history for all Nadal fans.
Watching the qualifying rounds this week at Roland-Garros stadium, I am encouraged to see a few American men and women performing well on the clay. However, it may be unrealistic to expect one of them to make a break through this year. Clay more than any other surface demands exceptional mental as well as physical fitness and part of that is being patient enough to work the points.