Nadal against whom in the final?
Is anyone really willing to bet on Rafael Nadal to lose at the French Open? Will it take anything short of a broken leg and divine intervention to knock the regal Spaniard off his throne?
Nadal's unbridled intensity is enough to mentally defeat opponents before the first ball is struck. So the only question is: Who will be his victim in the final? Roger Federer vanquished him in Madrid, but extenuating circumstances -- notably Nadal's four-hour marathon the day before -- played an integral role.
Andy Murray has been earmarked for a Slam title for quite some time, but mediocre clay results have softened this notion. Novak Djokovic has fortified his game -- and confidence -- but winning two week's worth of best-of-five matches on clay gives us pause.
So how does the field stack up? Our experts test their prescience.
French Open men's predictions
|Bonnie D. Ford
ESPN.com tennis writer
ESPN.com tennis writer
Florida-based tennis writer
|Early Exit||This just isn't the big guy's sandbox. Too bad -- Tsonga-mania in Paris would be something to behold if Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could pull through.||He's working hard to improve, but Andy Roddick remains the microcosm of American men on clay. The surface works against virtually all of his offensive gifts.||Andy Roddick doesn't love sandbox play and skipped all but Madrid this clay-court season. He had a handy excuse for being a no-show -- getting hitched and honeymooning.|
|Sleeper||The 2008 quarterfinalist has had a rotten 2009 clay-court season but Ernests Gulbis lifted his level in Paris last year, and easily could do so again.||Putting together a modest little clay-court season and pushing 30, James Blake seems to be uncharacteristically choosing reward over risk.||Once top-10, Ivan Ljubicic seems healthy and back in form. He made the quarters at Monte Carlo and Madrid, which should provide momentum in Paris.|
|Winner||Can't pick against Rafael Nadal. Sorry, Fed fans, but Madrid isn't Paris. Nadal will be able to have his traditional birthday cake the second week and eat it, too.||You take the field and I'll take Rafael Nadal -- and give you odds. He did not drop a set a year ago at Roland Garros.||Don't be fooled by his tired loss to Roger Federer in the Madrid final. Rafael Nadal is 41-4 on the year and the king of all courts will reign once again.|
Toronto-based tennis writer
London-based tennis writer
ESPN.com tennis editor
|Early Exit||Gilles Simon is the top-ranked Frenchman, but he has been struggling of late. He hasn't reached a semifinal since Dubai in February.||Andy Roddick lacked prep and is playing on his least productive surface. He scared Roger Federer in Madrid but was lucky to win his opener.||Despite his polished game, Andy Roddick's finite window of opportunity is closing on another major title -- never mind the clay of Roland Garros.|
|Sleeper||Streaky Chilean Fernando Gonzalez can be a threat to anyone if he hits a hot streak. He reached the quarterfinals last year.||Assuming he has overcome a leg injury, Nikolay Davydenko could inflict some real damage. The pressure is off, and he's keen to return to the top 10.||Stanislas Wawrinka has not lost to a single player outside the top 20 since the Australian Open. The stealth Swiss assimilates to all surfaces and settings.|
|Winner||He's been so dominant that it's tempting to be contrarian and pick someone else, but let's face it: No one is going to beat Rafael Nadal over the best-of-five sets in Paris.||We're going out on a limb here, but once in a while one needs to stick out his neck. Ignore Rafael Nadal's Madrid finale -- for a number of reasons.||The contrarian in me desperately seeks a reason to pick anyone but Rafael Nadal. We resort to common sense, though. Question is: How many sets will he lose?|
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2009 FRENCH OPEN
Women's singles: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
Roger Federer, Switzerland
Men's doubles: Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic and Leander Paes, India
Women's doubles: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain
Mixed doubles: Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, United States
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