Rafael Nadal vs. the Field At Roland Garros 2018: Your Full Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2018 French Open is here and it’s top seed Rafael Nadal vs. the field, as Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Hyeon Chung are among major outs for this Grand Slam. Read on to see whether Nadal will win another French Open title, or if a new champion will emerge.
Rafael Nadal will begin against Alexander Dolgopolov, with Joao Sousa or Guido Pella likely to be his next victim. Home favorite Richard Gasquet should await in round 3 unless his round 1 opponent Andreas Seppi makes a run. The Gasquet vs. Seppi winner takes on Malek Jaziri or Mikhail Youzhny. I’d be surprised if Nadal dropped a set in the opening week of the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
The Denis Shapovalov vs. John Millman round 1 match could decide one of the tournament dark horses for this year. Both players have been solid on clay this year, but I’ll go with the Canadian to face off with Max Marterer (or Ryan Harrison) in round 2. Jack Sock should ease past qualifier Jurgen Zopp, and the Yuki Bhambri/Yen-Hsun Lu winner to reach round 3, with Shapovalov favored to win this section.
Diego Schwartzman should be good enough on clay to defeat Calvin Hemery and Adam Pavlasek/Mirza Basic to reach round 3. I have the veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber winning a toss-up round 1 match against Borna Coric, then defeating Thomas Fabbiano (or Matt Ebden) to reach round 3, where I’ll back him in against Schwartzman.
Kevin Anderson looks set to be a factor in week 2, his path to that stage is Paolo Lorenzi, Aljaz Bedene/Pablo Cuevas, and most likely Feliciano Lopez. Lopez faces Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mischa Zverev/Florian Mayer prior to round 3. Bedene/Cuevas have ability on this surface, but Anderson is the favorite to take the section.Embed from Getty Images
Marin Cilic is in a great position to make a run, his first round opponent is James Duckworth, Hubert Hurkacz or Tennys Sandgren will be next in round 2 with Steve Johnson/Adrian Mannarino or Evgeny Donskoy/Jan-Lennard Struff set to feature in the following round. Cilic against Johnson is my expected third round matchup with Cilic advancing.
Fabio Fognini vs. Kyle Edmund in round 3 has the potential to be a thrilling contest. Fognini’s path will be Pablo Andujar, and Elias Ymer/Dudi Sela. Edmund faces Alex De Minaur, with Marton Fucsovics/Vasek Pospisil on deck. I’ll back Fognini over Edmund in the third round but the matchup could go either way.Embed from Getty Images
John Isner has been presented with a tremendous opportunity, his path to the second week is countryman Noah Rubin, Horacio Zeballos/Yuichi Sugita, and most likely Tomas Berdych. Berdych is a struggling former star who opens with Jeremy Chardy, Peter Polansky/Pierre-Hugues Herbert awaits. Chardy has a real shot at upsetting Berdych, while Isner should win the section.
Juan Martin Del Potro looks set to benefit from the absence of other top stars, Del Potro faces Nicolas Mahut, Leonardo Mayer/Julien Benneteau, then most likely Casper Ruud or Albert Ramos. I’ll back the qualifier Ruud to defeat Jordan Thompson, with Ramos beating Mikhail Kukushkin before being upset by Ruud in the second round.Embed from Getty Images
Fernando Verdasco vs. Grigor Dimitrov looks like the third round matchup in Dimitrov’s section, he needs to defeat Viktor Troicki, Nicolas Jarry/Jared Donaldson and either Verdasco or Taylor Fritz to reach week 2. Verdasco takes on Yoshihito Nishioka while Fritz faces Guido Andreozzi in round 1. I’ll go with Dimitrov over Verdasco in this section, with Fritz a possible dark horse.Embed from Getty Images
Novak Djokovic was struggling but he found enough form to suggest he’ll be a factor in the second week. Djokovic’s path is Rogerio Dutra Silva, David Ferrer/Jaume Munar and most likely Roberto Bautista Agut in round 3. RBA needs to defeat Denis Istomin and Marcos Baghdatis or Santiago Giraldo in round 2. Ferrer is a shell of the player he was, and RBA lacks weapons, so Djokovic, presuming his serve holds up, should reach week 2.
Expect fireworks between Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic in round 1, I’ll back an upset in this section with Marco Cecchinato defeating Marius Copil and the Kyrgios/Tomic winner to reach round 3. Kyrgios fitness is a question and Tomic’s form is always a question, while the Italian has been rising. Expect Pablo Carreno Busta to roll past Jozef Kovalik, Federico Delbonis/Thomaz Bellucci, then defeat Cecchinato in round 3.
David Goffin struggled after injuring his eye, but he has been improving and Robin Haase, Ivo Karlovic/Corentin Moutet will be his first 2 opponents. Gael Monfils always thrills the fans and should beat Elliot Benchetrit in round 1, but I’ll go with qualifier Martin Klizan or Laslo Djere to upset Monfils in round 2. Goffin over Klizan is my pick for the section.Embed from Getty Images
The other star player of the clay court season, Alexander Zverev, should ease past Ricardas Berankis and Dusan Lajovic/Jiri Vesely before running into Damir Dzhumur in round 3. This is a weak section for the #2 seed and I don’t see Dzumhur threatening him. The Bosnian has matches against Denis Kudla and Gregoire Barrere/Radu Albot before the third round.
Lucas Pouille has not been in good form, and despite home support I have him going down to the in-form Peter Gojowczyk in round 2. Gojowczyk faces Cam Norrie in round 1, while Pouille should get past the struggling Daniil Medvedev. Former champion Stan Wawrinka is not in good shape since returning from injury, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will take a crack at knocking him off in round 1, if that doesn’t happen, I’ll go with Karen Khachanov to beat Andreas Haider-Maurerer in round 1, and Wawrinka in round 2, before edging Gojowczyk in round 3.
Kei Nishikori looks set to roll into week 2 past Maxime Janvier, Benoit Paire/Roberto Carballes Baena and Gilles Simon or Frances Tiafoe. Simon is playing at home and taking on Nikoloz Basilashvili in round 1, with Tiafoe or Sam Querrey in round 2. Tiafoe is rising and has impressed on clay, but Simon’s pushing is always tricky. Nishikori over Simon should be the result in this section.Embed from Getty Images
The final section looks to have a must-see round 2 match between Stefanos Tsitipas and Dominic Thiem. Presuming Thiem is fit he’ll beat Ilya Ivashka, while Tsitsipas should put away Carlos Taberner. I’ll go with Thiem to win a tough one then face Ernests Gulbis in round 3. The qualifier Gulbis will get help rebuilding his career with wins against Gilles Muller and Matteo Berretinni/Oscar Otte. Look for Thiem (or Tsitipas) to win out here.
Round of 16
Nadal d. Shapovalov
Anderson d. Kohlschreiber
Cilic d. Fognini
Del Potro d. Isner
Goffin d. Carreno Busta
Djokovic d. Dimitrov
Nishikori d. Thiem
Zverev d. Khachanov
Cilic/Fognini, Del Potro/Isner, Goffin/PCB, Nishikori/Thiem and Djokovic/Dimitrov are the toss up matches here. Djokovic has the experience, Cilic is more consistent, Del Potro I trust more than Isner on clay, Nishikori should be more fit, and I feel Goffin will rise to the occasion.
Nadal d. Anderson
Cilic d. Del Potro
Djokovic d. Goffin
Zverev d. Nishikori
Zverev could lose, same with Cilic, but Nadal and Djokovic have less challenging paths it seems.
Nadal d. Cilic
Zverev d. Djokovic
Nadal looks way too good to lose before the final. Despite Zverev’s poor record in Grand Slams, you have to trust his solid clay season this year (and last year) over a still out of sorts Djokovic. Nadal should take the final.
Nadal d. Zverev