This could be Nadal's year to win in Paris

Updated: May 24, 2005, 7:43 AM ET
By Patrick McEnroe | Special to

Five months ago, I sat on the sidelines and watched the coming-out party of Rafael Nadal during his Davis Cup final victory over Andy Roddick. I knew that I was looking at a future French Open champ, but I wasn't sure it could happen this soon.

After what Nadal's done this spring, this could be the year. Nadal has dominated the clay-court season leading into the French Open and could easily be holding the trophy after two weeks.

He is in the same half of the draw as world No. 1 Roger Federer, who also has had a solid clay court season, winning the last Masters Series event in Hamburg. Federer and Nadal are scheduled to meet in the semifinals.

Look out for dangerous floaters in the top half of the draw, which is the much tougher half, in Carlos Moya and last year's champion Gaston Gaudio.

There could be a meeting of the future in Nadal and Richard Gasquet, one of only two players to beat Federer this year.

As for the bottom half of the draw, this is where the two top Americans lie -- Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick -- and all things considered they have to be pretty happy with their respective draws. Although neither one can underestimate any opponent on the red clay, particularly on a cold, wet day, which makes the clay play much slower.

The favorite in the bottom half of the draw is clearly Guillermo Coria, who melted down in last year's final but has rebounded well this year including a classic five-set, five-hour final near victory over Nadal in Rome. I'll be very surprised if Coria isn't around for the final weekend.

One potentially dangerous opponent for Coria would be former champ Juan Carlos Ferrero if they meet in the quarterfinals, but I still like Coria coming through in that section.

Patrick McEnroe, a tennis analyst for ESPN, is a former professional player and the Davis Cup captain.

Patrick McEnroe, who enjoyed success playing tennis on both the collegiate and professional levels for more than 10 years, serves as a tennis analyst for ESPN. He has also called play-by-play for select events.