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French Open 2015: Experts' picks for the men's draw

Ned Walters
SENIOR ANALYST
2.25K   //    23 May 2015, 18:40 IST

The tennis experts of Sportskeeda look ahead at the 2015 French Open by making picks for the men’s draw in four categories: dark horse, early exit, dangerous floater, and champion.

  1. Dark Horse

    Gael Monfils

Adnan AkhtarGael Monfils would be my choice for the dark horse at Roland Garros. The Frenchman has defeated the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer so far in the clay court season. With home support behind him and a relatively easy draw, I believe that Monfils could go deep in to the draw at Roland Garros.

Ball N Racquet: If there is anyone in the top 20 who could spring a surprise or two, it has to be John Isner. Apart from the top 8, who are overwhelmingly competitive, Isner’s name stands out as a potential headline-stealer, as has been for long. After his famous five setter against Nadal, an upset or two will not surprise many.

Jai Prakash: A crowd favorite and someone who gives it all on the court, Gael Monfils has shown flashes of brilliance this clay season. With a semifinal appearance at the Monte Carlo Masters on the back of his second consecutive win over Roger Federer on clay, the Frenchman is placed in Swiss Maestro's quarter at Roland Garros.

If he can handle his composure on the court and not choke like he did at the 2014 US Open, he can achieve his best result on home turf.

RohGrigor Dimitrov fits this bill thoroughly. The Bulgarian reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and semi-finals in Istanbul and Madrid to push his case firmly, even as he tripped early in Rome. At the French Open, it can be expected that he does well to move deeper into the draw. 

  1. Early Exit

    Marin Cilic

Adnan Akhtar: Ever since his return from injury, Marin Cilic’s game hasn’t been of the level which propelled him to the US Open title last year. A lackluster clay court season so far with quite a few early round exits doesn’t bode well for the Croatian and he could be on an early flight back home.

Ball N Racquet: All the players in the top eight are currently in good form. A very early exit is unlikely for most, with Stan Wawrinka facing possibly facing exit earlier than the rest. But among the top 20, Grigor Dimitrov is likely to be sent out early. He will face stiff challenge from the likes of Jack Sock, Pablo Carreno Busta and Tommy Robredo right from the first round.

Jai Prakash: 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic's form hasn't hit the right notes on the European clay courts. The No. 9 seed is low on confidence after his loss against Santiago Giraldo at the Geneva Open. He was also ousted in the first round of Rome Masters by Guillermo Garcia Lopez. 

I don't see the Croat progress beyond the first week in Paris.

Roh: 10th seed Marin Cilic has had a lacklustre clay season, with injuries impacting his performance. At the French Open too, this downward trend can be expected to continue for the Croat. 

  1. Dangerous Floater

    Dominic Thiem

Adnan AkhtarDominic Theim will be heading in to the French Open on the back of a final appearance on the clay courts of Nice. The Austrian has shown glimpses of brilliance this year, especially during his quarterfinal encounter against Andy Murray in Miami. He would be one player that the top guns would want to avoid in their French Open campaign.

Ball N Racquet: He might not have been in the headlines for sometime now, but he surely is a dangerous floater. Former top ten player and three time quarterfinalist, Nicolas Almagro will be geared up to do his best when he takes to court this week. His potential second round opponent is a lacklustre Nadal, against whom he has one win on clay.

Jai Prakash: A final appearance at the Open de Nice Côte d’Azur after a straight sets win over in-form John Isner, Dominic Thiem is improving by the day and it will be no surprise to see the Austrian do well on Parisian clay.

RohDominic Thiem, in the last quarter, is a player who could do some damage with his game. Not only has he been playing well, but his self-belief is also palpable with each victory of his, making him a trickier opponent to play against. 

  1. Champion

Novak Djokovic

Adnan Akhtar: Despite the tough draw he has been handed, Novak Djokovic would be my pick to win the title. He has had an incredible year so far and looks in prime form to complete his Career Slam at the French Open.

Ball N Racquet: Among the men, the favourite to win this title is Novak Djokovic. His performances this year have astounded many fans. He has won the Australian Open and all the Masters tournaments that he entered. Adding to his advantage will be the below par performances of Rafael Nadal. One still finds it very difficult to look beyond Nadal for this category, but recent performances tell a different story. One could also ponder that Djokovic was on a similar stage in 2011, but Roger Federer had his measure in the French Open semifinals, thus paving way for Nadal to win the crown. Results point to Djokovic, but they might not have to repeat again.

Jai Prakash:  He has come close to winning it on quite a few occasions, but Novak Djokovic will surpass the final hurdle this year to complete his Career Slam. With 4 Masters and a Grand Slam under his belt this season, the Serb is in red hot form heading into Roland Garros. He might face his biggest test against 9-time champion Rafael Nadal in the last eight. If he gets past the Spaniard,no one can stop the World No. 1 from winning his first Coupe des Mousquetaires.

RohNovak Djokovic. No matter how dangerous his section of the draw, it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to reign supreme at Roland Garros this year. This does look like the year where the Serbian will finally complete the Career Grand Slam. 

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Ned Walters
SENIOR ANALYST
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