Here are our takeaways from the French Open men’s draw.
The Top Half
Novak Djokovic has it the easiest, but only by a small margin. If he can get past Gilles Simon’s junk balls in the third round, he should handle Alexander Zverev in the quarters if the German isn’t upset prior. A tough semi is sure to follow, facing either Thiem or Delpo.
Unless the struggling Zverev implodes, he should make the fourth round where he could be upset by either Monte Carlo champ Fabio Fognini or Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Dominic Thiem’s section is straight forward until the fourth round where, if Fernando Verdasco upsets the fluctuating Gael Monfils, the Austrian will play the Spaniard. Thiem is 0-4 against the lefty and lost just last week to him in Rome. He should play Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters, Djokovic in the semis and Nadal, Federer, or Tsitsipas in the final.
If there is going to be a surprise quarter or semifinalist, it’ll likely come from the section led by No. 8 seed Juan Martin del Potro. Despite the Argentines amazing quarterfinal battle with Djokovic in Rome, questions about his knee and form remain. The other seeds, Russian Karen Khachanov and France’s Lucas Pouille, have both lost first or second round in almost every event they’ve played this year. No. 25 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime could play Delpo in the third round, and if he gets the upset he has a genuine shot at a first Slam quarterfinal. Notably, Feliciano Lopez extends his record of most consecutive Grand Slams played to 69.
The Bottom Half
Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded No. 6, has four former top ten players in his section. Luckily, they are all looking far from the form that brought them to the top. Matches to watch might be Tsitsipas versus Frances Tiafoe and Wawrinka versus Cilic in the third round.
Roger Federer, who’s playing after a three-year absence, has a tough draw. He’ll likely play Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round if the Argentine upsets last year’s surprise semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, which he should. Last year Diego brought down Kevin Anderson and could trouble Federer on with his solid returning. If the Swiss Maestro passes that test he’ll likely face Tsitsipas or Wawrinka in the quarters and Nadal in the semis.
The task of playing Rafa Nadal in the quarters is likely to fall to either Kei Nishikori or Daniil Medvedev, both of whom are playing well and could set up a blockbuster fourth-round match up.
The final section is Rafa’s and Rafa’s alone. The Spaniard opens against a qualifier and the other top seed in the section is Nikoloz Basilashvili, who Nadal crushed in Rome. Nadal should make it the quarters with ease before a Federer or Tsitsipas semi and possibly another Djokovic final.
Novak and Nadal have the easiest draws on the way to the quarters, with Djokovic likely having an easier QF match considering Zverev’s problematic form. Thiem could have a tricky fourth round against Verdasco followed by Delpo in the quarters and Djokovic in the semis Federer will have to play a hungry Tsitsipas or the Stanimal in the quarters followed by Nadal.