The action inches closer for the 2nd Grand slam of 2018 as Roland Garros is just a day away. We all know that Roland Garros is Nadal’s beloved territory and the Spaniard is an overwhelming favourite to win his 11th French Open title this year again.
Although being the Prince of clay, its difficult to beat him in his territory but upsets do take place and the tennis supporters all around the world would love to see an underdog story. so let us have a look at the player who potentially has the grit and the technicality to match that of the Spaniard in the French capital.
Alexander Zverev (Germany)
The 21-year old German is currently the most gifted youngster in tennis and with the absence of a lot of renowned players, Zverev will look to establish himself at the top level this year. With 5 ATP titles last year and 2 this year the German has already made a name for himself in the grand stage. He is a promising lad and his recent loss in the final against Nadal at Rome will still be a learning curve for the youngster.
The thing that will not go in his favour is his poor record in grand slams, with 4th Round appearance in Wimbledon last year being his best till date. But The 21-year old arrives in the French capital as an underdog with great form and a game well suited to clay, so if he can hold his nerve he can pose some serious threats to the big boys in the competition.
Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
The World No.1 has had a miserable 2018 as his form has stooped very low. The Serb has suffered disappointing losses in his attempt to comeback from a serious elbow injury. The 12-time grand slam winner is nowhere near his best and has suffered unimaginable losses starting from Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo to Barcelona and Madrid, Djokovic has been below par throughout these tours.
But the 31-year old seems to have found his feet recently and has shown definite signs of turning things around. His encouraging loss to Nadal in the semis in Rome will boost his morale to fight at the big stage. If Djokovic can carry bring his “A” game from Rome to Paris, you may never know when this champion can turn things around for himself.
Kei Nishikori (Japan)
The only Asian in this list, Nishikori is a calm, collective and consistent performer when it comes to major tournaments. The Japanese definitely has the temperament to win matches from pressure situations and have done som in the past. But regular top 8 finishes will not be enough as Nishikori needs to get his act together if he wants to go deep in French Open this year.
His athleticism and backhand are pretty good but the other aspects of the game need more improve and if he can bring out the best in himself, there is no reason why he cannot challenge for the title this year.
Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland)
The Swiss is a former Roland Garros winner and last year’s finalist. Stan is definitely a player to watch out, with multiple grand slams in his bag and with ample amount of experience, Stan knows how to handle the pressure.
Stan has always remained in the shadow of his legend compatriot but the 33-year old is well known for his upsets in the big stage. But the only thing that will not be in his favour is his current form, with a round of 64 exit in the Australian Open and then series of disappointments in events to follow, it has been a tough year for ” Stan the Man”. But the Swiss will look to redeem himself in his happy hunting grand slam and who knows he may come up with a surprise or two.
Dominic Thiem (Austria)
The enigmatic Austrian is the touted as the challenger to Nadal’s thrown in Paris this year. The 23-year old has had a top turvy like form and his inconsistency can be described by the result of two recent concluded tournaments, Thiem crashed out of the quarter-final in Barcelona to a 19-year old unheralded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, yet 2 weeks later in Madrid he fought his way to the final in Madrid and eventually came up with a heroic win over Nadal in the final.
The 23-year possess all the attributes needed to suit the game and be one of the best but he often crumbles under pressure, but with clay being his favoured surface Thiem will look to make a mark this year in Paris.
Thiem has been around the tennis scene for quite some time now and time has come for the next gen stars to step up their game and fight with the legends of this era, and with Thiem’s consistency, it looks like the Austrian is the flagbearer of the newer generation tennis stars.