Cape Town - Roland Garros starts on Sunday, and the men’s draw is looking like it could be tightly contested this year. Novak Djokovic will enter the tournament as the favourite, Andy Murray has turned heads in recent weeks and Rafael Nadal is not looking anywhere near as dominant on the surface as he has done in previous years.
Sport24 looks at some of the names to watch out for in 2015.
Age – 27
World ranking – 1
Best French Open – Runner-up (2012, 2014)
The Serbian has lost in two semi-finals and two finals in the last four years. Could this be the year he finally breaks his French Open duck? If last week’s Italian Open was anything to go by, then it would take a brave man to bet against Djokovic. Winning in Paris would make Djokovic only the eighth male player in history to have won all four Grand Slams.
Age – 28
World ranking – 7
Best French Open – Winner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Nadal has won nine out of the last 10 French Opens, including the last five. But recent losses to Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Murray have raised a few questions over his dominance on the surface this year. He may be far from his best on clay, but Nadal’s pedigree speaks for itself and there won’t be a player at Roland Garros looking forward to crossing his path.
Age – 28
World ranking – 3
Best French Open - SF (2011, 2014)
It remains the only Grand Slam in which Murray has never reached the final, and he has never looked completely comfortable on the surface … until now. Murray won his first ever clay court title at the Munich Open and followed that up with his first ever clay win over Nadal in winning the Madrid Masters. The Brit has turned the corner in a big way and is a real contender.
Age – 25
World ranking – 5
Best French Open – R4 (2013)
Much is expected from the Japanese star, who has been tipped as a future world number one. But you can’t get to the top without winning Grand Slams, and Nishikori will be desperate to get the first one done and dusted. His run to the final of last year’s US Open confirmed his likely bright future, but will he be able to go the distance at Roland Garros?
Age – 33
World ranking – 2
Best French Open – Winner (2009)
It seems like every time Federer enters a Grand Slam questions arise on how much longer he can compete at the top for. But a final appearance against Djokovic in Italy and his world ranking suggest that Federer will once again be a big player in Paris. He may not have the speed of times past, but the Fed Express always seems to find a way to get to the business end of a Slam.
Age – 30
World Ranking – 9
Best French Open – QF (2013)
2014 was a great year for the Swiss number two, but he was knocked out in the first round in Paris. He has perhaps struggled to capitalise on his Australian Open title last year, but he has thrown his name into the hat at Roland Garros with a win over Nadal in Rome – his first in 13 attempts. Can he cause another upset when it matters most?
Age – 33
World ranking – 8
Best French Open – Runner-up (2013)
The Spaniard must be one of the best players on the ATP circuit today never to have won a Grand Slam. Clay has historically been his best surface, and in 2013 he did all he could before facing Nadal in the tournament final in what has become tennis’s impossible match. There may be too much quality opposition for Ferrer to really threaten this time out.
Age – 28
World ranking – 14
Best French Open – SF (2008)
Always entertaining, Monfils is the centre of attention at Roland Garros year after year as the home crowd dream of a French success story. One semi-final and three quarter-finals has been the result, but regardless of where the Frenchman ends up you know that there will be plenty of action and drama along the way.