The Roland Garros Clay Competition
The Tennis French Open is one of the four major tournaments of the tennis calendar year and is known as a Grand Slam event.
Court Suzanne Lenglen. Image by Yann Caradec
The tournament is often referred to as ‘Roland Garros’ due to the location of the event, which is the Stade Roland Garros, Paris. The other Grand Slam tournaments include: Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Tennis Open
- French Open 2018 Men Single’s Winner: Rafael Nadal
- French Open 2018 Women’s Single Winner: Simona Halep
The unique surface
The tennis French Open is one of the most important tennis tournaments of the season, for all professional players and is played on a red clay court surface.
It is the only Grand Slam event to be played on this surface and concludes the clay court swing of the season. Playing at Roland Garros is often considered to be the biggest test of tennis player’s fitness levels. Due to the clay courts being slow, points can last for much longer than on other surfaces, such as grass.
The challenging slam
Roland Garros has been the one tournament which has caused the disruption of many players attempts at a calendar year Grand Slam.
Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic all have Roland Garros to thank for ruining their dreams. For spectators, however, it’s this kind of unpredictability that makes Roland Garros the tremendous tournament it is.
Being the second Grand Slam of the calendar year, after the Australian Open, it’s a great chance for players to cement their place high in the world rankings and seal a place at the end of year finals.
However, eyes are all on the prize of winning the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the men and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the ladies.
Roland Garros is a very distinctive event and the partisan nature of the crowd, makes it one of the best tennis events to attend as a spectator. You will see the top tennis players in the world, battling each other for the glory of the Tennis French Open title.
The players at Tennis French Open – Individual Dominance
Nadal The Heavy Favourite
As with any surface, such as clay, you will always get players who prefer it more to others. One look at the history of male winners at Roland Garros, shows huge periods of dominance by two individuals: Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal.
The former has retired, having won the event six times, including four in a row between 1978 and 1981. Nadal has won the event a record total of ten times, with a solitary victory by Roger Federer splitting up his run of nine between 2005 and 2014.
Having made a great comeback from injury in 2017, Nadal was head and shoulders above every other player at Roland Garros. The Spaniard did not drop a set on his way to a remarkable victory and never looked like being defeated.
He is the greatest clay court player in the history of the sport and comes into the 2018 Tennis French Open in good form, having won the Italian Open in Rome. The title in Italy adds to those picked up at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open, making Nadal the clear favourite to win the French Open.
Many tennis fans believe only injury can cause Nadal to lose the French Open title but there is one man in the draw who has defeated the Spaniard on clay this season and his name is Dominic Thiem.
The Austrian defeated Nadal in the quarter-final of the Madrid Open. He will come into this tournament with plenty of confidence.
Thiem won the Argentina Open this year and clay is his best surface, having reached the semi-final in his previous two appearances at Roland Garros. If you were to place a bet on the tournament this year, Thiem would present good value.
Much like Thiem, Alexander Zverev enjoyed himself at the Madrid Open and accounted for the Austrian on his way to landing the title.
At just 21 years old, the German is set to become the next big thing in men’s tennis. The 2018 French Open could be the tournament which propels him to the top of the sport. Zverev is coming into form at the right time and it is great to see a young player come through the ranks and challenge for a Grand Slam.
The former world number one comes into the 2018 French open ranked 18th and has struggled to get back to his best following an elbow injury and surgery. The 31 year old has won 12 Grand Slam titles but only one has come at Roland Garros.
Having been knocked out of the Madrid Open in the second round, Djokovic bounced back to reach the semi-final of the Italian Open before losing to Nadal. There were signs in that tournament Djokovic could reach the latter stages of the French open this year.
With no Roger Federer or Andy Murray this year, there is a select group of players who will be looking at this tournament as a potential Grand Slam breakthrough and one of those is Kei Nishikori.
The Japanese star came from nowhere to reach the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. Although he has not had a great run since, he has defeated Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Gregor Dimitrov on clay this season.
Women Roland Garros
Since the days of Monica Seles, Steffi Graff and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, it’s only been Justine Henin who has consistently performed well in the ladies’ event. The 2018 tournament could be wide open, much like it was in 2017.
Without Serena Williams playing due to pregnancy, several players fancied their chances of winning the 2017 French Open. However, no one predicted Jelena Ostapenko would come through to claim her first Grand Slam title.
*It has to clear from this paragraph that Serena will play in the tournament.
The 20-year-old Latvian was yet to win a singles title of any description on the WTA Tour prior to her French Open victory last year . Her previous best at the French Open was the first round in 2016.
It was a massive upset, especially defeating Simona Halep in the final, a player with experience of playing in the showpiece occasion at Roland Garros.
Ostapenko has been inconsistent in the build up to the 2018 French Open. Doing well at the Italian Open but falling early in Madrid. She is going to be interesting to watch and will be dangerous if she reaches the latter stages.
Simona Halep will start the tournament as the number one player in the world. Even so Halep is still searching for her first Grand Slam title.
The Romanian lost in the final at Roland Garros last year and will be aiming to go one better this season. She reached the quarter-final in Rome plus the final in Madrid. This year and will start the 2018 French Open as the favourite.
Serena Williams will return to the Tennis French Open this year. She will be the one player everyone hopes to avoid in the draw as she is unseeded.
This could make for some thrilling matches in the opening rounds of the tournament, when traditionally the top players avoid each other thanks to the seeding system. However, Williams pulled out of clay-court events in Madrid and Rome and it will be interesting to see how she fares at Roland Garros.
There is very little to split the players at the top of the women’s game. With: Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova – all fancied to do well.
Could a French player win at Tennis French Open in 2018?
Could a French player win at Roland Garros in 2018? Potential names to look out for include:
Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet in the men’s draw. In the ladies’ draw: Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic and Alize Cornet.
However, all eyes will be on the greats of the game, such as:
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Simona Halep, as the best players in world assemble, at the Tennis French Open.