French Open Draw and Preview Liveblog
23/05/13 Reverse order Timestamp format
Hello everyone and welcome to our liveblog of tonight's draw ceremony for the second calendar year Grand Slam, the French Open! I'm Matt Johnson, and I'll be with you from now until the draw commences at 7:30 (Roland Garros organisers pushed back the start time by half an hour), with comments throughout the draw, and some draw analysis once the ceremony has concluded.
If you have any questions/comments you'll like to direct to me throughout our coverage tonight, you can tweet to myself (@matt_ed_johnson) or the Sporting Journal (@sportingjournl), and I'll post a reply in the feed below.
First of all, let's take a look at the winners of the various claycourt tournaments that have been held in the leadup to the premier claycourt tournament of the year, held at Roland Garros in Paris, France.
On the men's side of things, here are your winners for all claycourt tournaments stretching as far back as Morocco in April:
Casablanca (ATP 250): Tommy Robredo
Houston (ATP 250): John Isner
Monte Carlo (Masters 1000): Novak Djokovic
Barcelona (ATP 500): Rafael Nadal
Bucharest (ATP 250): Lukas Rosol
Portugal (ATP 250): Stanislas Wawrinka
Munich (ATP 250): Tommy Haas
Madrid (Masters 1000): Rafael Nadal
Rome (Masters 1000): Rafael Nadal
And in the world of women's tennis, here's how things have fared since the Family Circle Cup (played on green clay):
Family Circle Cup (Premier): Serena Williams
Monterrey Open (International): Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Katowice Open (International): Roberta Vinci
Marrakech (International): Francesca Schiavone
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Premier): Maria Sharapova
Portugal Open (International): Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Madrid Open (Premier): Serena Williams
Italian International (Premier): Serena Williams
There's still a little bit of action around Europe this weekend in the leadup to the second Grand Slam of the year. In men's action in Dusseldorf, Pella v Monaco and Niemenen v Sijsling are your two semi finals. In Nice, Montanes v Roger-Vasselin and Monfils v Andujar are fighting it out for a spot in the final.
In WTA action around Europe, Oprandi v Peng is your first semi-final in Brussels, while Lepchenko, Kanepi, Hampton and Vinci will tussle for the two other semi-final spots. In Strasbourg, Bouchard and Cornet have already made their way through to the semi-finals. Pennetta, Doi, Hradecka and Larsson make up the other half of the draw.
The draw will see an absence of a number of key players, particularly in the men's side. Most notably, Andy Murray (2) and Juan Martin del Potro (7) have skipped the tournament due to a back injury and viral infection respectively.
It will be hard to see Rafael Nadal being usurped on his pursuit for an eighth French Open crown this year. After returning from a significant layoff following last year's early exit in Wimbledon, he has come back in arguably the best form of his life. His dominance on clay has been absolutely incredible, and barring one minor blip in the Monte-Carlo (where it's fair to say conditions were not in his favour - damp courts reduce the effectiveness of Nadal's highly topspun groundstrokes), has been unbeatable this claycourt season.
In terms of Rafa's other main rivals, Novak Djokovic has been inconsistent (for lack of a better word) during the clay season. After his initial triumph at Monte-Carlo, he has failed to reach the semi-finals of either of the other two claycourt Masters 1000 tournaments (Madrid and Rome). In saying that, he was two points away from victory against Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals of Rome.
Roger Federer has slowly been building himself up throughout the clay season. After running into the white-hot Nadal in the QFs at Monte-Carlo, he went down swinging against Japanese ace Kei Nishikori in R16 at Madrid, before slugging his way to his maiden tournament final of 2013 in Rome. Although being obliterated by Nadal in the final, do not be surprised if he makes an incredibly deep run, especially if the draw works in his favour.
On the women's side of the French Open, we are pretty much left with a two-horse race, both of whom have been incredible on the red stuff throughout the season: Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. They've been relatively unstoppable, and have come into their own on clay. Williams has been playing some of the most ruthless, incredible tennis of her entire career, and it's very difficult to see anyone toppling her over the next two weeks. She's been undefeated since her assertion to the crown in Miami. Sharapova has also been impressive on the slidy stuff, winning in Munich, while reaching the final in Madrid. She had a setback in Rome, pulling out before her QF with Sara Errani. Look out for the glamour queen in Paris nonetheless.
I will indicate who my dark horses/other seeded challengers/Aussies are in contention at RG13 following the conclusion of the draw ceremony. The stream has just commenced, so get ready for a barrage of posts as the women's (first) and men's draws get announced.
Currently, a speech is being given by French Tennis Federation President Jean Gachassin. A reminder that next year, the centre court will be gifted a new roof, following the lead of Wimbledon and Melbourne Park.
The Aussies currently confirmed for both draws are as follows. Women's: Sam Stosur and Ash Barty. Men's: Bernard Tomic, Marinko Matosevic, Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios. In qualifying, both Anastasia Rodionova and James Duckworth still have the potential of gaining a French Open berth.
Most notable thus far is that Svetlana Kuznetsova has been drawn to play a seed in the first round. That will be incredibly interesting for the former Grand Slam champion.
Rafael Nadal will be helping with the drawing of the seeded women's players.
Maria Sharapova will commence her two in a row tilt at the French Open against Chinese Taipei's Su-Wei Hsieh. Serena Williams will be playing against Anna Tatishvilli in her first match in Paris.
Agnieszka Radwanska has been drawn in Williams' half of the draw, while Victoria Radwanska could play Sharapova in the semi-finals.
Caroline Wozniacki v young gun Brit Laura Robson in the first round.
2011 Champion Li Na will play seasoned claycourter Anabel Medina-Garrigues in the first round.
Samantha Stosur has drawn perennial veteran, and fan favourite from the Australian Open, Kimiko Date-Krumm for her first match at Roland Garros.
Jelena Jankovic v Daniela Hantuchova could be an interesting matchup to keep your eye on.
Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic has a strong chance to reach the semi-finals. She's been in relatively good form throughout the claycourt season, and potentially has Agnieszka Radwanska as a 4th round opponent, with Sara Errani a looming quarter final foe.
Another interesting clash in the works is Slovakian pocket rocket Dominika Cibulkova, and Ukrainian rising star Lesia Tsurenko.
Men's draw now.
Bernard Tomic has been drawn against Victor Hanescu.
World number one Novak Djokovic gets Belgian David Goffin in the first round.
French fan favourite Gael Monfils will be drawn against either Rafael Nadal or David Ferrer in round one. The winner will most likely play one of my dark horses, Ernests Gulbis.
Lleyton Hewitt has been drawn to play a seed. Time will tell who that will be.
Nole/Rafa, Federer/Ferrer potential semi finals.
Berdych v Monfils in the first round. Apologies, the stream commentator was incorrect.
In terms of Aussie hopes, Nick Kyrgios will make his Grand Slam debut against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek. Lleyton Hewitt will play Gilles Simon.
Another two of my dark horses - Benoit Paire and Jerzy Janowicz - have drawn Marcos Baghdatis and Albert Ramos respectively.
Maria Sharapova's other half - Grigor Dimitrov - could face Novak Djokovic in the third round. The Bulgarian beat Nole in their last meeting in Madrid.
To say the two draws are incredible would be an understatement. There seems to be a significant number of humongous early round clashes from the get-go. Could we see another surprise finalist ala Martin Verkerk?
I will wait until the draws have been fully posted before I conduct a better analysis. The Frenchmen and Frenchwomen sure wanted to get their draw ceremony out of the way incredibly quickly!
Apologies, I have skipped one of our Aussie charges. Marinko Matosevic has drawn Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer in the first round.
Sam Stosur may face her perennial foe in Petra Kvitova in the fourth round. Sam secured her first ever career victory over Kvitova in Rome earlier this month. Prior to that, Kvitova held a 7-0 career advantage.
Here's Novak Djokovic's potential path to the quarter-finals: R1 - Goffin, R2 - Dodig, R3 - Dimitrov, R4 - Kohlschreiber, QF - Haas.
Here's one for you: Rafael Nadal may come up against the last man to defeat him in Grand Slam tennis - Lukas Rosol - in the third round. Lucky for Nadal, Rosol's game is much more suited to the fast grass compared to clay, so it should be a better outcome for the Spaniard.
I now have a full copy of the women's draw, so here comes a deeper analysis of the contenders.
Notable first round women's matchups: Caroline Wozniacki v Laura Robson, Svetlana Kuznetsova v Ekaterina Makarova, Mona Barthel v Angelique Kerber, Urszula Radwanska v Venus Williams, Nadia Petrova v Monica Puig, Li Na v Anabel Medina-Garrigues, Ash Barty v Lucie Hradecka, Jelena Jankovic v Daniela Hantuchova, Dominika Cibulkova v Lesia Tsurenko
Notable first round men's matchups: Novak Djokovic v David Goffin, Grigor Dimitrov v Alejandro Falla, Alexandr Dolgopolov v Dimitry Tursunov, Bernard Tomic v Victor Hanescu, Carlos Berlocq v John Isner, Mikhail Youzhny v Pablo Andujar, Benoit Paire v Marcos Baghdatis, Florian Mayer v Denis Istomin, Tomas Berdych v Gael Monfils, Marinko Matosevic v David Ferrer, Juan Monaco v Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Radek Stepanek v Nick Kyrgios, Gilles Simon v Lleyton Hewitt.
Looking ahead, there are some incredibly interesting matchups that we could bear witness to.
Projected QFs (based on seedings): Williams/Kerber, Radwanska/Errani, Li/Azarenka, Kvitova/Sharapova. Djokovic/Tipsarevic, Nadal/Gasquet, Berdych/Ferrer, Tsonga/Federer.
Some interesting potential R2/R3/R4 matchups that we have in store for both sides of the draw.
R2 (women's): Wozniacki/Robson v Jovanovski, Agnieszka Radwanska v Donna Vekic, Petrova/Puig v Madison Keys, Yulia Putintseva v Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic v Garbine Muguruza, Eugenie Bouchard v Maria Sharapova.
R3: Agnieszka Radwanska v Williams/U. Radwanska, Julia Goerges v Ana Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki v Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova v Lucie Safarova, Jelena Jankovic v Sam Stosur, Dominika Cibulkova v Sloane Stephens.
R4: Serena Williams v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Angelique Kerber v Caroline Wozniacki/Laura Robson, Agnieszka Radwanska v Ana Ivanovic, Nadia Petrova v Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova v Sam Stosur, Dominika Cibulkova/Sloane Stephens v Maria Sharapova.
And the men's...
R2: Alexandr Dolgopolov v Bernard Tomic, Yen Hsun-Lu v Philipp Kohlschreiber, Fernando Verdasco v Janko Tipsarevic, Rafael Nadal v Martin Klizan, Tomas Berdych v Ernests Gulbis, Jurgen Melzer v Tommy Robredo, Milos Raonic v Michael Llodra, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Jarkko Nieminen, Juan Monaco v Viktor Troicki, Radek Stepanek v Marin Cilic.
R3: Novak Djokovic v Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas v John Isner, Rafael Nadal v Lukas Rosol, Benoit Paire v Kei Nishikori, Stanislas Wawrinka v Jerzy Janowicz, Tomas Berdych v Tommy Robredo, Milos Raonic v Kevin Anderson, Juan Monaco v Marin Cilic.
R4: Novak Djokovic v Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tommy Haas v Janko Tipsarevic/Mikhail Youzhny, Rafael Nadal v Benoit Paire, Stanislas Wawrinka/Jerzy Janowicz v Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych v Nicolas Almagro, Milos Raonic v David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Juan Monaco, Gilles Simon v Roger Federer.
That's it for tonight folks. I hope you've appreciated the coverage. I shall update this liveblog over the following two days with my dark horses/Aussie hopes, and some better analysis of the first round of the tournament. Cheers!