French Open Men's Draw Analysis

French Open Men's Draw Analysis

Roland Garros coming just a few weeks after the conclusion of the US Open certainly feels different, but if the New York slam taught us anything, it's that absence of some (if not all) fans isn't going to be changing the results on the court too much.

Top seed Novak Djokovic only lost in New York after a boneheaded maneuver in which he accidentally hit a line judge with a ball and was forced to default. In Paris, the 33-year-old Serbian looks to be the big winner as both No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem are in the opposite side of the draw. 

Barring a surprising loss, Djokovic should be back in another French Open final, a tournament he has won only once (2016). His stiffest competition in the top half of the draw could come from the following potential foes:

Potential QF opponents

Potential SF opponents

On clay courts, none of those players will likely strike great fear in Djokovic's heart, and he looks like a big favorite in the top half.

In the bottom half, Nadal is all but a shoe-in for the final as he's won the title a ridiculous 12 times, including three years in a row. The 34-year-old Spaniard has only lost three matches in his career at Roland Garros, but he did recently lose in the clay-court tune-up event in Rome after not playing during the hard-court restart, so his form isn't exactly unquestionable at this point. 

Nadal's biggest threat in the bottom half of the draw is Thiem, who he has defeated in the final in each of the past two seasons. If anyone is going to accomplish the Herculean feat of defeating Nadal at the French Open, it could be Thiem, who just claimed the US Open title for his first-ever major victory.

The following players could make deep runs in Paris and at least challenge the likes of Nadal and Thiem:

  • No. 8 seed Gael Monfils: Monfils hasn't played well in the clay-court warmup events prior to the French Open, but he's usually capable of doing some damage on the dirt. His best run in Paris came in 2008 when he reached the semifinals, but he's also reached at least the fourth round in four of his five previous showings.
  • No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman: Schwartzman conquered Nadal on clay in Rome for his first-ever win in 10 tries against the Spaniard, so he'll be riding high with confidence entering Paris. The Argentine's best effort at Roland Garros came in 2018 when he reached the quarterfinals.
  • No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev: The US Open runner-up didn't play any clay-court events prior to the French Open, but he should be as confident as he's ever been after a nail-biting five-set loss to Thiem in New York in his first-ever major final. The 23-year-old German has reached the quarters in Paris in each of the previous two seasons.

The men's draw is full of intriguing opening round encounters that will shape the way the tournament unfolds in later rounds. Here are a few:

Round 1 matches to watch

No. 16 seed Stan Wawrinka vs. Andy Murray

Murray leads the head-to-head 12-8, but injuries have made him a shadow of the player he once was. These two met at Roland Garros in 2016 and 2017, splitting the pair of matchups. Wawrinka, a former French Open titleist, is the clear favorite but Murray did win their most recent encounter in 2019.

No. 9 seed Denis Shapovalov vs. Gilles Simon

Shapovalov recently made his Top 10 debut after reaching the quarterfinals at the US Open and semifinals in Rome. He's certainly the more in-form player compared to the 35-year-old Frenchman, but this could be a tricky matchup. Simon is a former Top 10 player himself, but his form has dropped in recent years, sending his ranking to its current spot of No. 53.

No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman vs. Miomir Kecmanovic

Both of these players should be full of confidence after Schwartzman reached the Rome final and Kecmanovic won his first title in Kitzbuhel. The two have never met, and Schwartzman is the definite favorite, but it's a tricky opening round for the 28-year-old Argentine against a player who just won a title.

No. 11 seed David Goffin vs. Jannik Sinner

Sinner actually defeated Goffin in straight sets earlier this season in their only previous matchup, and Goffin was crushed in the opening round of his only clay-court tune-up event in Rome. The veteran Belgian, a 2016 quarterfinalist in Paris, should win this matchup as he's the more solid and fit of the two players, but Sinner could take him out if he comes out hot.


Quarterfinals: Djokovic d. Berrettini, Rublev d. Tsitsipas, Thiem d. Schwartzman, Nadal d. Zverev

Semifinals: Djokovic d. Rublev, Nadal d. Thiem

Final: Nadal d. Djokovic

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Zak Patterson
Zak joined RotoWire in 2016 covering NBA games. Now, he focuses on recapping and analyzing daily ATP and WTA tennis matches, and providing perspective on the state of the men's and women's game.
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