Seeds fall as both draws open up at Roland Garros.
The first few days of the 2014 French Open have, as expected, thrown up some surprising results. For the first time in the tournament’s history the current Grand Slam champions both went out in the opening round, with Stanislas Wawrinka and our tip Li Na both exiting the tournament in round one.
With the strongly fancied Kei Nishikori also exiting the men’s competition, and favourite and reigning champion Serena Williams being sensationally beaten in the second round of the women’s event, both draws have been blown wide open. We look at the results so far and preview the second week at the French Open.
Two of the leading men’s contenders crash out in round one
Third seed Stan Wawrinka and ninth seed Kei Nishikori were two of our ‘men to watch’ at Roland Garros this year. In a week of upsets, both men were beaten in the first round and their defeats have thrown the draw wide open.
Arguably the biggest beneficiary of Wawrinka’s defeat is Andy Murray. The Scot is in Wawrinka’s quarter of the draw and his most difficult match before the quarter finals is likely to be against home favourite Richard Gasquet.
Mercurial Spaniard Rafael Nadal remains the favourite and looks to have an easy route to the quarter finals. The Spaniard has only ever lost one match on the clay at Roland Garros and despite recent clay court defeats he remains the man to beat.
Despite an average record at Roland Garros, it could be the year that Novak Djokovic completes his career Grand Slam. The Serb faces a trickier route, however – he has Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his quarter of the draw – and could easily come unstuck.
Swiss legend Roger Federer is a previous French Open champion and has looked in decent form so far. We actually think the former world number one could take advantage of some of this year’s upsets and go further in the tournament than many expect.
If you want an outsider to follow, Fabio Fognini is a clay court specialist and is in a favourable part of the draw. The Italian has never got past the third round at Roland Garros but has reached his highest world ranking this year and could go well at longer odds.
Paris set for an eighth different female winner in eight years
Seven different women have won the French Open title in the last seven years and with the top two seeds being sensationally knocked out in the first few days, the tournament is once again wide open.
A couple of weeks ago we warned against backing Serena Williams at short odds. Despite Williams arriving in Paris as the reigning champion her record at Roland Garros is mediocre and she went out in the second round to the unknown Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, winning just four games – her worst performance in a 288 Grand Slam match career. Venus Williams also went out in round two, ending a miserable few days for the sisters.
We had higher hopes for the Australian Open champion and 2011 French Open winner Li Na, but the 32 year old lasted just one round, going out Kristina Mladenovic in one of the shocks of the tournament so far.
Last year’s beaten finalist Maria Sharapova looks to be the main beneficiary of these eliminations and the Russian number seven seed is former winner at Roland Garros. We also like the chances of two-time finalist Ana Ivanovic while the bottom half of the draw has opened up for our per-tournament tip Sara Errani.
The Italian had a scare in the opening round before beating Madison Keys 7-5 3-6 6-1 but the clay court specialist has an excellent recent record at Roland Garros. Errani reached the singles semi-final in 2013, the final in 2012 and the women’s doubles final in each of the last two years. With Li Na no longer providing an obstacle to the quarter finals, the 27 year old could do well once again.