On the women’s side, Serena Williams is in solid position to win her second French Open championship. Only five months into the season, Williams already has more wins this year than her entire 2011 season. Williams enters the tournament with an impressive win on the controversial blue clay of Madrid and a semifinals appearance in Rome.
|Rafael Nadal is aiming for a record seventh French Open title. (Photo by Romana Cvitkovic/Tennis Grandstand)|
Rafael Nadal (Ranking: 2, 2012 W-L Record: 33-4, Champion – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011)
After a disappointing third-round exit in Madrid earlier this month, Nadal lost the world No. 2 ranking to Swiss Roger Federer. Nadal, however, wasted no time earning it back with a win in Rome over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. For the seventh time in the last eight years Nadal, 25, enters Roland Garros having won the most clay court titles, with three this season – at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.
Serena Williams (Ranking: 5, 2012 W-L Record: 27-2, Champion – 2002)
This year’s French Open could be Williams’ best chance to add to her 2002 championship trophy. Leading up to Roland Garros, Williams scored commanding victories over world No. 2 Maria Sharapova and current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in Madrid. As a precaution Williams, 30, withdrew prior to the semifinals of the following tournament in Rome due to a back injury and has said she will be 100 percent for the French Open.
|Serena Williams is looking for her second French Open title and first since 2002.|
Men’s:Novak Djokovic (Ranking: 1, 2012 W-L Record: 30-5, Semifinalist – 2007, 2008, 2011)
Djokovic, winner of last year’s Wimbledon and U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open, is attempting to collect his fourth straight Grand Slam and the only major title that has eluded him. The top-ranked Serb enters the tournament in good form on clay, losing in the finals to Nadal in Rome and Monte Carlo, and reaching the quarterfinals in Madrid. If Djokovic, 25, wins, he will complete the non-calendar year Grand Slam, and he will be the first player to hold all four titles at the same time since Australian great Rod Laver did so in 1969.
Roger Federer (Ranking: 3, 2012 W-L Record: 31-4, Champion – 2009)
Even at an age where most players’ careers decelerate, the 30-year-old owner of 16-Grand Slam titles shows no signs of slowing down. For a brief week earlier this month, Federer rose back to the No. 2 ranking before relinquishing it to rival Nadal. He enters Roland Garros with a win in Madrid and semifinals appearance in Rome, where he lost to eventual champion Djokovic.
David Ferrer (Ranking: 6, 2012 W-L Record: 33-7, Quarterfinalist – 2005, 2008)
A perennial top-10 player, Ferrer has the agility and fitness to make a run in any Grand Slam. While he does not possess the power of some of the top players, the Spaniard’s return game and ability to keep the ball in play gives opponents fits. In the clay court tournaments leading up to Roland Garros this year, the 30-year-old Ferrer has reached the finals in Barcelona, semifinals in Rome (losing both to Nadal), and quarterfinals in Madrid (losing to eventual champion Federer.)
Women’s:Victoria Azarenka (Ranking: 1, 2012 W-L Record: 35-3, Quarterfinalist – 2009, 2011)
The 2012 season has belonged to the 22-year-old Belarusian, who began the year on a 26-match win streak. With renewed demeanor and focus, Azarenka captured her first Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open to become the top ranked player in the world. She reached the finals at Stuttgart and Madrid, losing to Sharapova and Williams, respectively. She withdrew from Rome after winning her first round, citing a right shoulder injury, but is scheduled to play in Paris.
Maria Sharapova (Ranking: 2, 2012 W-L Record: 29-5, Semifinalist – 2007, 2011)
The former world No. 1 is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. Even with the distractions and accolades, there is no questioning Sharapova’s desire to win. More than four years have gone by since she last hoisted a major championship trophy (Australian Open 2008) but Sharapova, 25, is as motivated as ever to win the only Grand Slam missing from her collection. The current world No. 2 reached the finals at Stuttgart and Rome, and fell in the quarterfinals in Madrid to eventual champion Williams.
Agnieszka Radwanska (Ranking: 3, 2012 W-L Record: 32-7, Fourth Round – 2008, 2009, 2011)
At a career-high world No. 3 ranking, Radwanska is experiencing her best season on the pro tour, claiming titles in Miami and Dubai. She is currently competing in the Brussels Open as the top seed and has reached the final four. The 23-year-old Pole also finished with a semifinals appearance in Madrid, where she lost to rival Azarenka. Radwanska is 0-6 vs. the Belarusian this year.
The draw for the 2012 French Open will be available Friday, May 25. The main draw of the tournament is scheduled to begin May 27th and runs through June 10th.
This article was written for The Epoch Times. View the online version here.