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French Open 2021: With Big 3 in same half of draw, will a new champion emerge?

French Open: Since the Major uses world rankings to draw up seeds, ties that could easily have the look of a 'final' may just happen in the quarterfinal and semi-final of the men's draw.

Written by Shahid Judge , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 29, 2021 1:30:02 pm
A view of the centre court at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The French Open singles draws have a few interesting potential match-ups. This is despite four top-ranked players missing out through injury this year. Denis Shapovalov, former champion Stan Wawrinka and Borna Coric in the men’s side, and World No.3 Simona Halep, who would have been a favourite in the women’s draw, have pulled out.

Since the Major uses world rankings to draw up seeds, ties that could easily have the look of a ‘final’ may just happen in the quarterfinal and semi-final of the men’s draw.

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Here are some of the key readings.

Men’s singles

Big 3 in the same half: There are two possible finals before the final. World No1 Novak Djokovic may meet 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (seeded 8) in the quarterfinal. The winner might then meet 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.

Possible new finalist: With the Big 3 in one half of the draw and Wawrinka not playing, there’s a strong chance a new French Open finalist may emerge from the other half of the draw. This, of course, hinges on what kind of form Dominic Thiem will be in. The Austrian, a three-time Roland Garros finalist, has struggled with form and fitness ever since he won the US Open in 2020.

Big 4th round encounters: Should all seeded players progress to the fourth round, a series of eye-catching ties are in the offing. Djokovic will play former top-10 David Goffin, Matteo Berretini will face Federer, Nadal will play crowd-pleasing Frenchman Gael Monfils, Andrey Rublev, a recent quarterfinalist at Grand Slams, will make it hard for Diego Schwartzman, Thiem will face clay-court specialist Casper Ruud, and talented Grigor Dimitrov will play Russia star Daniil Medvedev.

Tricky start for Medvedev: World No.2 and second seed Medvedev has failed to win a single match at Roland Garros in four attempts. To make matters worse, he plays tricky world No.37 Alexander Bublik in the opener.

Women’s singles Biggest 1st round match: The most interesting opening round match in the women’s draw will be the one between last year’s finalist Sofia Kenin and 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko. It’ll be a battle between two players with opposing styles; Kenin’s varied play (slices, flat strokes, top-spin, drop shots, moon balls etc) against the all-guns-blazing Ostapenko.

Tricky 4th round matches: Defending champion Iga Swiatek is in the same quarter as former world No.1 and 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza. An all-Belarussian tie might happen at the same stage between third seed Aryna Sabalenka and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka, who reached the US Open final last year. Another tight match could be a battle between two heavyweights of women’s tennis, but Grand Slam underachievers – Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina.

Tough route for Barty: World No.1 and 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty (who skipped the 2020 edition) may have a rough campaign. She could face the tricky Ons Jabeur in the third round, followed by a clash against either 17-year-old rising star Coco Gauff or Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady. She’s also in the same half of the draw as Pliskova, Svitolina, Muguruza and Swiatek.

Serena’s quest for 24: Veteran Serena Williams’ first big test may come in the third round against former World No.1 Angelique Kerber, followed by a potential clash against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth. Neither Kerber nor Kvitova are known as avid clay-courters, while Williams has won three French Open titles.

Opening for Osaka: Clay is Naomi Osaka’s weakest surface. The best the World No.2 has managed at Roland Garros is a third round finish. This could arguably be her best chance to improve that record, as none of the opponents she could face before the fourth round have ever reached that far in the tournament.

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