The French Open draw is out and Round 1 is only hours away. Four of the names that will be watched closely on the men’s side are 9-time champion Rafael Nadal, defending champion Novak Djokovic, defending finalist Andy Murray, and aspiring title-contender Dominic Thiem.
Yesterday, I took a look at the clay-court serve performance of four of the ATP players most in contention for the 2017 Roland Garros title— Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. That analysis showed that Rafael Nadal has so far separated himself on serve by 5 to 15 percentage points on average. An impressive stat next to anyone but especially when compared to the players who are some of his toughest rivals for another Major win.
Now that the dust has settled at the Rome Masters, the tennis world is turning its focus to the French Open, where main draw play is nearly upon us. With Roger Federer skipping Roland Garros when not injured for the first time since he first played the event in 1999, the four names that will be most in the discussion for the win are Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. In this post, we look at the clay court season so far and what it tells us about the form for each of these top contenders going into the second Major of the year.
In her first match at the Rome Masters, World No. 1 Kerber was ousted by
the 68th ranked player on tour, Anett Kontaveit, in straight sets. Despite holding the best rank on tour, Kerber has seemed in a slump for most of the season with early round loses becoming a norm.
At this point in the clay season, many of us were expecting Andy Murray to have appeared in at least one or more finals and maybe even snagged a title. But with a Round of 16 loss this week to Borna Coric at the Mutua Madrid Open, Murray has crashed out earlier than expected for his third clay court event of the season.
Every match win involves some luck. Whether it’s the coin toss or the bounce off a clipped net, some events in a tennis match are outside of a player’s control. And the sport accepts that. But we shouldn’t accept it when it comes to line calls, especially when there is technology that can prevent line call errors.
Despite starting the 2017 season as World No. 1 for the first time in his career, Andy Murray has had a lackluster go of it so far. After Murray’s Round of 16 loss at the Monte Carlo Masters last week, his match record was 13 and 4. Now, in terms of wins and losses alone, that puts him on par with his performances thru the end of April in 2016 and 2014, but far behind his record in 2015 when he had bagged 23 wins and just 5 losses by this point in the calendar.
The tennis world is abuzz with speculation over the future of Serena Williams. In an already extraordinary week in which the 23 Grand Slam title-owning champion was projected to reclaim the World No. 1 without having played an event since this year’s Australian Open, Williams, in a cheeky snapchat post, announced that she was expecting.
With less than 2 weeks until Maria Sharapova makes her return, there is a growing stir of speculation over her comeback. Having already been granted controversial wild cards and 3 Premier events, including the upcoming Stuttgart Grand Prix, Sharapova—after 15 months out of the game—will return to tennis with a unique opportunity to avoid the usual entry prohibitions of unranked players. Her first match will be in the middle of the first round of Stuttgart on April 26th where she will have a chance to take 470 ranking points.
After the first quarter of the 2017 season, Roger Federer has his 18th Grand Slam title and a 19-1 win record overall. Such an impressive start naturally leads us to ask: Where should we rank Federer’s 2017 start against the other seasons of his career? How does it compare to the best season starts in tennis history?