A little late but definitely better than never - we did the predictions for the girls yesterday, it's time for the boys. We have our first dude winner in Marin Cilic - he won, like, five seconds ago. But everything else is still up to fate...
(Oh, off the subject of dudes, well done to Sveta Kuznetsova for doing stupendously in her first round match. I really thought Sorana Cirstea was going to hurt her badly, but she cruised through with very little trouble at all. Yay Sveta.)
Okay. The dudes.
Roger's quarter: This is a stacked quarter and no mistake. I mean, it's not super heinous or anything like that, but it has every dark horse in it that I could have possibly imagined. Let's see who we have in there... Tipsarevic, Gulbis, Montanes, Monfils, Wawrinka... it's stacked. And then we have some big time seeds like Cilic and Soderling. And then randoms like Dmitry Tursunov (where have you been?)
But I'm not picking against Roger here. I know he's not been playing so well of late, but he peaks at Slams. We know this. And he has comparatively little pressure coming in here, when you consider what's been going on for him in years past. He's held that cup. He's been there. And it may sound cheesy, but I believe in him.
There are lots of people with a good shot in this quarter, but I don't think there's much that can overcome the Federer factor here. There could be a blockbuster quarter final with Soderling - that would be a nerve wracking match and no mistake! Insert Cilic here and you could have the same thing going on. But like I said - Roger all the way.
Winner: Roger Federer
If not him, then: Marin Cilic or Robin Soderling
Dark horse: Ernests Gulbis
First round matches to watch: Gulbis/Benneteau and Lapentti/Dent
Muzz's quarter: This may be Murray's quarter, but I don't know if I'd pick him to win it. He may have made the quarters last year, but I just don't think he's going there again - not just because he's not exactly Captain Clay, but due to this weird slump he's in. And with Nice champion Richard Gasquet up first round, I'm calling potential upset...
Compared to Federer's quarter, there's not as much going on in this one, and as far as I can see, the quarter is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's to lose. He hasn't been playing spectacularly of late, but with his game, he has the ability to swing his way into the semis without too much trouble. There's not that many clay names in this quarter - not at all. Mikhail Youzhny and John Isner are the only dudes I can see who could seriously challenge...
...unless, and this is a very big unless, Andrey Golubev somehow catches fire like he did in Australia for a little bit. I haven't seen much of him on clay, but I was so, so impressed with what I saw from him in Australia this year. I will never forget sitting on a plane on the way to Perth and watching him absolutely demolish Igor Andreev. It ranks among some of the best tennis I have seen from people not named Federer, and I mean that.
Winner: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
If not him, then: Mikhail Youzhny or John Isner
Dark horse: Andrey Golubev (and, while he's not exactly a dark horse, Andy Murray)
First round matches to watch: Petzschner/Ball and Isner/Golubev
Novak's quarter: Djokovic better not focus too much on the clay court Spaniards lurking in his quarter, because there's a big danger lurking in his first round - you can bet your bottom dollar that Evgeny Korolev will not be taking any prisoners. I'm really looking forward to this match, because while it doesn't have upset written all over it, it is bearing the label 'big possibility of an upset right here'.
But if he does get through it, there are the aforementioned Spaniards lurking in David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero. The quarter really should be on Djokovic's racquet, but I don't know if it will quite play out like that. These Spaniards might just annoy him into submission, and hunch-wise, I really like past champ Ferrero.
I feel like we should talk about Andy Roddick, but because he hasn't played since Miami, it is not unreasonable to say he might not have his clay legs yet, and he really hasn't performed that awesomely here in the past. He has a reasonably forgiving draw, however - Monaco in the third round should be his first real threat.
Just noticed that if Djokovic does get through Korolev, he might just run into a very, very hungry Kei Nishikori in the second round. I don't think he'd be so happy about that.
Winner: Juan Carlos Ferrero
If not him, then: David Ferrer or Novak Djokovic
Dark horse: Sam Querrey
First round matches to watch: Djokovic/Korolev and Starace/Marchenko
Rafa's quarter: Dootsiez at All I Need Is A Picket Fence had it right when she said this quarter was full of people not named Nadal. It's full of Spaniards who would make a Djokovic or a Murray quail - the Almagros and Verdascos of the world - but they seem a little pale next to the might of Rafa, who is hungrier than ever before to get this title.
Gee, I wonder who will this section...?
I am hoping that Gianni Mina performs well in the first round, however, because he is an exciting young dude. I don't think he'll do anything sacrilegious like win a set, but at least a set of good competitive tennis would do wonders for his confidence. (And, indeed, the confidence of any player, ever, who could stay close to Rafa on the dirt).
Ljubicic and Bellucci are also good clay players active in this section, and we all know how Philipp Kohlschreiber can pull an upset. Lleyton Hewitt is also here, seeded to face the big man in the third round. You can bet he's dirty about that. Because I can tell you right now who will this section.
Winner: Rafael Nadal
If not him, then: Nicolas Almagro (but it will be Rafa)
Dark horses: Ivan Ljubicic and Philipp Kohlschreiber (but it will be Rafa)
First round matches to watch: Llodra/Bellucci and Ljubicic/Lu
This leaves us with the following semis:
Federer vs Tsonga
Ferrero vs Nadal
I would not be surprised to see a total repeat of the Australian Open semi for the Federman - that win had some psych-stuff attached to it, if you like me. He might falter if he gets ahead of himself and starts thinking about the final, but I think he learned his lesson about that last year.
I wonder who could possibly win the other semi. The only question is how many bagels there will be in it.
Which leaves us with:
Federer vs Nadal
The eternal question - can Federer beat Nadal for the Roland Garros title? And much as my heart says yes he can, he can do whatever, he's awesome, I have to go with Rafa on this one. This is his backyard, and to say he's in form... understatement of the century.
What did you pick?
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago