Sunday, May 22, 2016

French Open Preview, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Tossup Tennis

There are 128 players in the French Open draw in each singles division this year. But let's talk about the people who aren't playing for a second, because that list is really interesting.
Because we've got:

  • Roger Federer out: He's been plagued by an injury apparently caused by his toddler. He recently had a knee surgery and his tentative attempts at a clay warmup were discouraging. Too bad, because it could be argued that Federer could have been the favorite here, what with Rafael Nadal still trying to find his sea legs, Novak Djokovic taking an early loss on clay, Andy Murray playing it solo and defending champion Stan Wawrinka meeting mediocrity at every turn. 
  • Gael Monfil out: A virus was his undoing, only days after he released proof that he is as close to Superman that we have on this planet.
  • Maria Sharapova out: On, um, medical leave? Never one to draw attention to himself, Russian Fed Cup Shamil Tarpischev called the situation 'bad' for Sharapova. But anyway, this is a big loss on the women's side, because Sharapova actually has won this thing before, and her absence leaves a massive void in the women's draw.
  • Caroline Wozniacki out: Bad ankle. Another big hole in the women's draw. 
  • Belinda Bencic out: although she's out hitting the next day on social media. OKkkkkkkkaaayyyyy. 
Now with that out of the way, let's deliberate on the players who are left and what obstacles they face. Let's start with the men's draw:

  • This was a first for me -- finding a seeded player I had literally never heard of: Lucas Pouille at No. 29. 
  • Also had some Throwback Thursday moments when I realized, based on this draw, is that the following people are still playing professional tennis: Viktor Troicki, Mikhail Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov. So you're saying they have a chance? No. Not really. No.
  • Tomas Berdych is playing Vasek Pospisil in the first round. Ernests Gulbis and Andreas Seppi. Troicki is playing Grigor Dmitrov.

The ladies?

  • This was a second for me -- finding a seeded player (or two) I had literally never heard of: Daria Kasatkina at No. 29 and Jelena Ostapenko at No. 32.
  • Let me just say now that this tournament is gonna be a free-for-all for the women. We've got Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in the mix in the same part of the draw, but pure chaos everywhere without some solid seeded players.  
  • Two first-rounders that could be fun: Francesca Schiavone v. Kristina Mladenovic and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni v. Daniela Hantucova

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