Week 1 of the French Open has drawn to a close. 8 men and 8 women still have dreams of becoming French Open singles champions this year. A rainy Sunday forced the end of week 1 and the start of week 2 to intersect on Monday. Here are 4 tidbits you need to know about what has happened and what will happen on the red clay of Roland Garros.
- Calamity on the women’s side- Only 2 of the top 8 ladies seeds have reached the quarterfinals. Early casualties included defending champion Maria Sharapova (4th round), as well as 2014 runner-up, 3rd seed Simona Halep (2nd round). For Sharapova, this snaps a streak of 3 consecutive French Open finals. Questions about whether Halep possesses the weapons to win a major will only get louder with her early exit. When high seeds lose, it creates opportunity. That is what we have seen here to the highest degree. Either 93rd ranked Allison Van Uytvanck or 23rd seed Timea Bacsinszky will reach their first major semifinal. Van Uytvanck has earned a whopping $5600 in prize money this year. That will increase to over a quarter million dollars no matter what happens from here. Bacsinszky’s rise is even more unreal. She had retired and was managing a hotel a year and a half ago. I’m not kidding. The big guns will likely have many more days in the sun, but there are definitely some unexpected faces at this stage.
- Serena struggling, but winning- She is chasing her 20th major, but Serena Williams is walking a tightrope. She has dropped the first set in 3 consecutive matches. Everyone knew when the draw came out that Serena’s toughest matches were going to be early on with names like Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens in her section, but I don’t think even Serena expected to have to grind this much just to reach the quarterfinals. We have seen the immensely powerful American pull off a few great escapes and when majors before. However, one must wonder how many times she can tempt fate and get away with it. Despite her patchy play, Serena is a massive favorite when you consider the other 7 players left.
- American men’s tennis finds hope in a “Sock”- American men’s tennis has been starving for a legitimate topline star since the retirement of Andy Roddick in 2012. We may have finally found the heir apparent. 22-year-old Jack Sock reached the 4th round upsetting the 10th seed in the process, before falling in 4 well contested sets to 9 time French Open champion Rafael Nadal. This was correctly predicted by a certain blogger before the tournament. Sock is already a major champion in doubles. However, his massive, but more importantly complete game is starting to translate on the singles court. I believe he has a real chance to one day become the first American man to snag a major title since Roddick in 2003.
- Showdown city coming for the top guys- Unlike the women’s draw, the men’s draw has very much held to form with 7 of the top 8 seeds reaching the quarters. This means we get the matchup that everyone circle when the draw came out. Top seed Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is still chasing that elusive French Open title that Nadal has denied him of time and time again. Nadal is looking to reassert his dominance on clay and himself as a threat at the top of the sport once again. I stand by what I said in my preview. I like Nadal to edge Djokovic in a classic quarterfinal on Wednesday morning. However, I just cannot see the winner of that match having anything left in the tank for the semifinals or final. Like their chief rivals, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have sailed through the early rounds. These 2 men have a golden chance with the way the draw shook out. The matches remaining on the men’s side will be classics. If you are ever going to start following tennis, now would be good.