With the 2019 ATP tennis season well under way now, many interesting things have happened. From Novak Djokovic’s record 7th Australian Open, to Roger Federer’s resurgence of form winning Miami, to Rafael Nadal’s uncharacteristic losses on clay, where he had barely lost since 2017, and also the NextGen stars seemingly getting closer to a asserting their dominance over the old guard.
The next Major in the tennis calendar is the French Open in Paris. Played on the red dirt, this tournament could be significant for many reasons. Firstly, Djokovic could complete the “Nole Slam” for the second time, as he currently holds the Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open titles. Secondly, Nadal could win a ludicrous 12th French Open, Federer could be the first man since Rod Laver to win at least 2 Majors at each event, or we could potentially see a new champion all together.
So who are the top five favorites to win the French Open? Let’s break it down.
French Open favorites
#5 Stefanos Tsitsipas
This young Greek player has shown that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future. This season he has defeated both Federer and Nadal, and has two titles under his belt. (Which, shockingly, is more than Nadal can say!)
His performances this year have presented the case that he has arguably overtaken Alexander Zverev as the figurehead for the next generation of tennis stars. Whilst the German cannot seem to maintain any kind of form, Tsitsipas has gone from strength to strength. Although it would be a shock if he won the French Open, his performances in Madrid and Rome showed he’s no slouch. Therefore, he deserves to be on this list.
#4 Roger Federer
It may be odd to see Federer at four. However, given that this is his first bout in the clay court season in three years it doesn’t seem fair to hold his chances too highly. Federer being Federer means that he always has a chance to win in every tournament he plays. However, his loss to Thiem in Madrid (despite having match points) showed that he still has work to do on the red dirt.
Furthermore, clay is the most demanding surface on the tennis tour. With Federer at 37, it could prove too difficult for him to maintain the kind of form required to win perhaps the most grueling Grand Slam of them all.
#3 Dominic Thiem
Already being heralded as the successor to Nadal’s rule over the clay court season, last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem has shown that he is ready to make the push to win the French Open. Although he ultimately lost to Djokovic in the semifinals in Madrid, he did manage to beat Federer in the quarters. For that reason the young Austrian is unquestionably one of the favourites to go on and win the French Open.
#2 Rafael Nadal
This time last year there was no question that Nadal was the favorite to win the French Open, given that his only major rival during this period was Roger Federer, who kept opting out of playing on clay to preserve his body for Wimbledon.
However, Nadal is yet to win a title this year, having been beaten in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and now Madrid. Although he will compete in the Rome final, his preparation for his title defense in Paris has left a lot to be desired.
In addition, Nadal’s old nemesis Novak Djokovic has returned to his best, meaning that Nadal’s obligatory French Open victory is under serious threat. Nevertheless, he is the King of Clay for a reason, and no one has dominated like Nadal has at the French. Therefore, only a madman would rule him out.
#1 Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic seemed like he was down and out this time last year. Having spent all of 2017 and the first half of 2018 in a mysterious slump of form, no one could quite predict whether he would be able to make a comeback.
Make a comeback he did, however, with the Serb winning three Majors in a row and regaining the World No. 1 spot. He now finds himself with an opportunity to complete the “Nole Slam” for the second time in his career.
Despite starting off the year by winning the Australian Open, Djokovic’s form declined rapidly. However, he won the Madrid Open last week and it appears that he has found his form again. Because of that he goes into the French Open as the favorite to win.
Main Photo from Getty