Familiar Final at the French Open

Federer should meet Nadal in the French Open final, again, and that’s too bad. Where is the rest of the competition?

Rear View Mirror: a look at last week’s picks

In Poertschach I correctly picked Juan Monaco to beat Nikolay Davydenko. I picked Lleyton Hewitt to win it and he came close, he lost to Gael Monfils in the semifinals. Monfils was the story of the tournament. This was his first tournament since working with coach Tarik Benhabiles and he got all the way to the final before losing to Juan Monaco. Monfils is signed with IMG management through next February but it’ll be interesting to see if he signs with Renaissance Tennis Management in the future. Renaissance is building a team of profession players based in South Florida with Benhabiles as the head coach.

Federer’s Half of the Draw

There really isn’t anyone who can scare Federer in his quarter of the draw. He should meet Robredo in the quarterfinals and he has a 7-0 record over him.

The bottom quarter looks like the quarter from hell. Look at the probable third round matchups: Nikolay Davydenko versus Nicolas Almagro, Richard Gasquet versus Guillermo Canas, and Juan Monaco versus Fernando Gonzalez. You try and pick those matches! David Nalbandian is the player I’ve left out because he’s 3-4 on clay this year and hasn’t played since Barcelona though I couldn’t find any report of injuries. Has he lost interest?

Canas is the hardest guy in this draw to pick. He beat Gasquet in Miami and got to the Barcelona final but hasn’t gone beyond the second round since and this week he got some bad news. Canas served a 15 month suspension for using a performance enhancing drug. He considers the suspension unfair because he maintains that an ATP-approved doctor prescribed the drug. He took the case all the way to Switzerland’s supreme court which sent it back to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). This week the CAS reaffirmed its original decision. Canas must be discouraged because he expected the CAS to overturn his suspension. It’s too bad, I would have loved to see him meet Federer in the semifinals but I think he’ll be upset and go out to Gasquet.

Gonzalez hasn’t beaten anyone important on clay this year but neither has Gasquet and this is Paris, the downfall of many a French player, so I have Gonzalez beating Gasquet and meeting Almagro in the quarterfinals. I think Almagro is ready to break out so I have him over Davydenko and Gonzalez. He got an important win over Tommy Robredo in Hamburg – you could see him getting mentally stronger as the match wore on – and he won both his matches in Dusseldorf.

Nadal’s Half of the Draw

This half of the draw is nowhere near as interesting. Paul-Henri Mathieu will be the player to break Parisian hearts this year – I have him into the quarterfinals – but he’s no match for Novak Djokovic and neither is Juan-Carlos Ferrero.

Rafael Nadal should meet Robin Soderling in the third round but it shouldn’t matter and he should meet Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Berdych beats Nadal on hard court but Nadal beats Berdych on clay.

That brings us to Djokovic and Nadal in the semifinal. Nadal played one too many tournaments this spring: Hamburg. He protested long and loudly about ATP CEO Etienne de Villiers’ plan to downgrade Hamburg from Masters status and eliminate one of the clay court Masters events so he couldn’t very well skip Hamburg. It cost him the match against Federer because he ran out of gas and it could cost him this title but he won’t lose to Djokovic. Djokovic doesn’t have the game to push him on clay yet.

Tennis looks increasingly like the U.S. political system: a two party system of Democrats and Republicans with little chance of a third party getting any votes whatsoever. I’m so over it that I’d I’d prefer to see two different players in the final rather than see Federer win the French Open and go on to win all four slams this year. I don’t think Federer will win here. Nadal is having a dream clay court season and he should get plenty of rest between matches.

If there were a third party who could make it to the final, who do you think it would be?

French Open Draw

Quarterfinalists: Federer, Robredo, Almagro, Gonzalez, Djokovic, Mathieu, Berdych, Nadal
Semifinalists: Federer, Almagro, Djokovic, Nadal
Finalists: Federer, Nadal
Winner: Nadal