The French Open is one of the most difficult tournaments to win. The clay surface at Roland Garros is not easy to master, and it often leads to frustrating results for even the most accomplished players.
For example, only two players on the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, have won a French Open singles title in the last 10 years. There’s been more parity in the women’s bracket, though, with seven different champions in the last 10 years.
Here are three of the top storylines entering this year’s French Open.
Rafael Nadal’s Drive For Title No. 10
Nadal has competed in 10 French Open men’s singles tournaments and won nine times. His only failure was a fourth-round loss in 2009, the same season a knee injury kept him out of Wimbledon.
Nadal returned to Roland Garros in 2010 and began an impressive run of five straight titles. He defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets in last season’s men’s final for his ninth French Open singles championship.
No player ever has won a single grand slam tournament 10 times. In fact, Nadal is the only player ever to win nine singles titles at one grand slam tournament. The Spaniard is past his prime, but that won’t result in his opponents taking him lightly on a surface he has dominated for a decade.
Maria Sharapova Aiming To Become First Women’s Repeat Champion Since 2007
There hasn’t been a repeat champion in the women’s singles tournament since Justine Henin won three straight titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Sharapova, who’s won two of the last three French Open women’s singles titles, is the favorite to win again after reaching the final of the Australian Open in January. She’s won one of her three tournaments on clay this season. Her most recent clay tournament was the Italian Open last month, where she defeated Carla Suarez Navarro in the final.
Another French Open triumph for Sharapova would make her the fourth women’s player in the Open Era to win three or more singles titles at Roland Garros.
Will Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Drought End?
Federer owns a record 16 grand slam singles titles. However, he hasn’t won a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2012 and his last appearance in a final of a grand slam was last year’s Wimbledon.
Federer’s 10 straight grand slam tournaments without a title is the longest such streak of his storied career, but better results could be on the horizon. Federer is the No. 2 ranked player in the world entering Roland Garros, and he has a favorable draw over the first four rounds.
His top competition at the tournament likely will be Novak Djokovic, who would play Federer if both men reached the quarterfinals. Djokovic defeated Federer in the final of this month’s Italian Open and is highly motivated to win the first French Open title of his career after finishing as the runner-up twice.
Thumbnail photo via Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press
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