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Roland Garros 2017: Men’s Draw Analysis

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With the 2017 Roland Garros set to kick off come Sunday, Sportwalk analyses the draw of the men’s singles event.

This year, there are many storylines that have garnered attention. Rafa Nadal’s resurgence, Djokovic’s slump, Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev’s uprising, and the rise of the Dark Horses à la the two Pablos – Cuevas and Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, among some others to name. The upcoming 2 weeks will decide which storylines play out and which don’t, and of course, will also decide our undisputed 2017 Roland Garros Champion.

How Far Can Murray Go?

Among the easier quarters of the 2017 RG draw, the makers of the draw seem to have let up on the quarter of World No.1 Sir Andy Murray, but that shouldn’t matter given how terrible the illness-ridden Scot has been.

© Getty Images

In the 2nd Round, Murray could face fiery Martin Klizan (who had thrashed Nishikori 3 years ago at this very event). If Murray advances, he will mostly face the big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro (whose participation is a doubt as we speak). Del Potro isn’t exactly in the best shape physically, but on paper this match should be great. Fourth Round vs Tomas Berdych or John Isner and Quarterfinals vs Zverev or Kei Nishikori, these matches could signify the end of Andy’s French Open campaign if he’s not at his very best.

The Easy

Also having been gifted an easier draw is our Defending Champion, world no. 2 Novak Djokovic.

His opponents till the 4th Round have had their share of respectable results on the dirt but nothing too extraordinary. In the 4th Round, Novak can face either Lucas Pouille or Ramos-Vinolas. Both possess the weapons to cause commotion to Novak’s super-aplomb game but would it be enough?

 

You are almost certain to see him in the last 8 of the tournament unless Novak goes back to his pre-Rome slump and gives a turnout worse than the new Ridley Scott flick in the theaters.

Early Matches with insane potential in these sections of the draw :

Goffin vs Thiem
Zverev vs Cuevas
Zverev vs Verdasco
Murray vs Del Potro

The Quarter of Death

Now, onto the tougher sections of the draw, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, the forerunners of the Men’s Tour after the Big Four, find themselves embroiled in a super-stacked draw. Feels as if someone took their nightmare and printed it into a 128-person draw sheet.

Spare a thought for Cilic here. He must be cursing the draw-makers right now, from what we perceive of the draw. 1st Round vs 2014 RG Semifinalist Ernests Gulbis, 2nd Round vs dirtrat Federico Delbonis, 3rd Round vs either David Ferrer or Feliciano Lopez, 4th Round vs home-hope Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who isn’t as bad on clay as we all think) or Nick Kyrgios. Unreal. Shall he make it out of this tangle of upsets galore, he’ll mostly meet Stan Wawrinka in the Quarterfinal.

Stan Wawrinka
© Getty Images

Talking of Stan, he himself has a tough draw although not worse than Cilic’s. Stan can face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the 2nd Round, and although Dolgopolov has struggled with fitness this year, he still plays very well on the clay and can take Stan The Man out on an off-day. In the 3rd Round, Fognini awaits. Fabio Fognini, for ages, has been predicted as a Dark Horse at various GS events but he has always had a penchant for not living up to his billing. But that should give you no reason to count Fogna out already. He is playing great tennis this year and could give Stan a run and we all could have a classic on our hands. If Stan survives, his 4th Round should be harmless with one of the other two home-hopes possibly facing him — Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils. And the victor of both these aggregations of a draw face each other! Move over Indiam Wells 2017, we have our new Quarter of Death.

Favorite Nadal fancying his chances

Lastly, we look at the quarter of El Matador, the title favorite — Rafa Nadal. Rafa, and for that matter every fan of his must’ve sighed after realizing he faces ultra-talented Frenchman Benoit Paire in opening round. The Frenchman is having a good year, having taken Stan out at Madrid, and very few have more authentic talent and better hands than this guy.

Rafael Nadal
© Getty Images

Rafa will have a battle on his hands when he sets foot on the Terre Battue, if he’s not at his very best he could even drop a set. But if he does win this blockbuster, all the other matches till the Quarterfinal stage will be less difficult as Rafa only gets better as he advances. Highest seeded players in his Quarter – 5th seed Milos Raonic, who at this point just wants the next 18 days to quickly pass so that his favorite part of the season, à la grass season, arrives; and, Grigor Dimitrov, who is in a falloff ever since the Clay Season began. Rafa should be able to reach the Semifinals without much toil, and that’s where Djokovic (or Thiem) awaits. The Final Before the Final.

Early Matches with insane potential in these sections of the draw :

Gulbis vs Cilic
Wawrinka vs Dologpolov
Cilic vs Ferrer
Kohlschreiber vs Kyrgios
Cilic vs Tsonga/Kyrgios/Kohlschreiber
Wawrinka vs Fognini
Simon vs Nadal

This year’s Roland Garros promises romanticism at its finest, and fans are expected to make the most of it. Be it the Hot-Shot boscage that Brown vs Monfils will provide us, or DelPo’s race against time (and his body), Thanasi Kokkinakis’ much awaited return to Grand Slam tennis, the brand new Djokovic-Agassi partnership. Or, the much anticipated 10th Roland Garros title for the King of Clay, this is going to be one hell of a ride! So, sit back and hold tight, the game iss about to begin!