Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Orderly for men, less so for women

Rafael Nadal, above, is 38-1 at the French Open and could reasonably expect to play No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the final.

Associated Press

Rafael Nadal, above, is 38-1 at the French Open and could reasonably expect to play No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the final.

PARIS — The expected can be comfortable, just as chaos can be exciting. A good measure of both will be found at the French Open beginning today — keen anticipation on the men's side, offset by utter unpredictability among the women.

The men's No. 1 seed, Rafael Nadal, is seeking his sixth championship at Roland Garros, which would equal Bjorn Borg's record. The women's No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki, has never won a Grand Slam event.

The men's No. 2, Novak Djokovic, is 37-0 this year and could eclipse John McEnroe's Open era record start of 42-0 by reaching the semifinals. The women's No. 2, Kim Clijsters, who last played Roland Garros in 2006, has been out since March because she hurt her ankle dancing at a wedding.

Third-seeded Roger Federer has won 16 Grand Slam titles, more than any other man. The third-seeded woman, Vera Zvonareva, has not won one.

And so it goes. For the men, anything other than a Nadal-Djokovic final — besides an appearance by Federer, perhaps — would be an upset.

Anything on the women's side will be largely unexpected.

Today's schedule features matches for No. 8 Samantha Stosur — the Tampa resident garnered worldwide attention last year by finishing as the runnerup at the French — and No. 10 Jelena Jankovic, a three-time semifinalist. Among the men playing on opening day is No. 7 David Ferrer, who is hoping to join the list of Spaniards with a Roland Garros crown.

Most of the biggest names begin play Monday or Tuesday.

Nadal has maintained a stranglehold on this event, where he is 38-1. His loss to Robin Soderling in 2009's fourth round opened the door to Federer's lone French title.

And while Soderling (a two-time finalist, seeded fifth) and No. 4 Andy Murray carry hopes of capturing their first Grand Slam title on the red clay, it is hard to imagine anyone not named Nadal, Federer or Djokovic holding the Coupe des Mousquetaires in two weeks.

"Probably, this year, the favorite is Djokovic," Nadal said.

Djokovic smiled when he heard that. "I say he's the favorite," he said.

The women's bracket is less a funnel toward the finish than a blender. Last year's winner, Francesca Schiavone of Italy, was seeded 17th. Fifth this time, she is one of 17 or more players harboring realistic title hopes.

Serena and Venus Williams are absent, each with injuries, leaving the women's bracket without a seeded American.

Clijsters, who won last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open, is a two-time finalist at Roland Garros (2001, 2003), but she has not played here since leaving the game to start a family.

The opening is there, perhaps, for Wozniacki. Then again, maybe it will be Zvonareva, or No. 4 Victoria Azarenka. Or Maria Sharapova, lurking at No. 7 and coming off a claycourt victory at Rome, where she beat Azarenka, Wozniacki and Stosur.

.Fast Facts

French Open

When/where: Today-June 5; Roland Garros, Paris

Defending champs: Men, Rafael Nadal; women, Francesca Schiavone

Today's top matches: No. 7 David Ferrer vs. Jarkko Nieminen, No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Augustin Gensse; No. 8 Samantha Stosur vs. Iveta Benesova, No. 10 Jelena Jankovic vs. Alona Bondarenko, No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova

TV: 1 p.m. today, ESPN2; 5 a.m. Monday, Tennis

Orderly for men, less so for women 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 9:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)