After some discussion with my online buddies, I am in total agreement that Rafael Nadal is the clear favorite to win his tenth Roland Garros title; however, because I am also a big Nadal fan, I make this announcement with some trepidation and a lot of hesitation. I remember how crushed I was when Serena Williams was the favorite to win the US Open in 2015 and she fell short in the semifinals. She lost to Roberta Vinci after completely dominating the first set. If nothing else, tennis like most individual sports, teaches the fans that no victory is guaranteed until the event is over.
As dominant as Nadal has been, there are still a few threats lurking in the background, players who can get hot and pull off the upset. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, and Alexander Zverev come to mind. Of course those are the obvious threats; however, it’s the players that we least expect who can sometimes pull off the biggest upsets of their career. There are often extenuating circumstances that come into play in any tournament, more so in the Majors when the prize at stake is so much bigger. Let’s not forget the pressure of what Nadal is hoping to accomplish, while we may think he should be prepared, no player has been in the position he will be in beginning next week. It is the opportunity for the first man or woman to win a Major title for the tenth time. The historical significance of that is tremendous. He deserves the accolades he has received for winning both the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters and the Barcelona Open for the tenth time this season. Can you image the publicity and the accolades that would be showered on him if he were to win Roland Garros this year? The odds are heavily in his favor, but we must not forget that every player wants to win a Major title and may be inspired by the challenge of being the player that prevented the “king of clay” from accomplishing his goal this season.
While there is an obvious front-runner on the men’s side, there is no clear favorite on the women’s side. Simona Halep is hurting; so too is Elina Svitolina; Angelique Kerber, the number one ranked player, has not done anything so far this season to impress us; and the defending champion, Garbine Muguruza, has been disappointingly inconsistent this season. Can Muguruza recapture the form that saw her dispatching Serena Williams in the final to claim her first Major title? I expect there will be some highly motivated player who comes out of the woodwork to claim her first Major title; however, we cannot underestimate the veterans who may all be hoping to use the French Open to jump-start their 2017 season and or turn their career around. The female player that reigns at the end of these two weeks will depend on a little luck and a lot of focus and perhaps at the end, it will be someone we underestimated.
Needless to say, the fans are curious to see who will indeed reign at the end of these two weeks; and with so much at stake for Nadal, everyone will be following the results of the men’s draw over the next two weeks with avid curiosity.
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