Will it be Rafa’s 12th, Novak’s second or Dominic’s first?
In a fortnight’s time, I think the Coupe de Mousquetaires will be heading back with one of those three men but there is always the possibility of a surprise champion.
Below, I’ve picked out four favourites and two guys who could have epic runs if things fall their way.
Before Rome, I might have put the world no.1 at the top of this list. However, after watching the King of Clay bagel Djokovic for only the ninth time in the Serb’s career, I’ve put Nadal exactly where he belongs.
In beating Djokovic last weekend, Nadal lifted his 81st singles title with 58 of them coming on clay including those 11 French Opens.
Nadal has an enticing draw in Roland Garros this year. The Spaniard will play qualifiers in his opening rounds before projected meetings with David Goffin (third round) and Nikoloz Basilashvili or Guido Pella (fourth round). Daniil Medvedev or Kei Nishikori are potential opponents in the quarters before a last four bout with Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Stan Wawrinka.
Our Novak is likely to make the final but he faces a difficult route to get there.
Over the past year we’ve seen an untouchable Djokovic in majors and a very vulnerable one beyond them. The 32-year-old won the Australian Open in style but has also lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut (twice) this season.
I think we’ll see a formidable Djokovic in Paris and he will need to be to make the last day. The 2016 champion should have far too much for his opening opponents. Things then get challenging with a possible run of clay courter Jaume Munar (third round), the tireless Borna Coric (fourth round), Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini (quarters) and Thiem (semis). He’ll need to play very well to get through that lot.
The 25-year-old was cleaned out by Nadal in last year’s final but he’s improved since then. There is patience and versatility in Thiem’s play this year and that has helped him beat Federer to win Indian Wells, and Nadal in the semis of Barcelona.
The world no.4 has a good draw and it would be disappointing if he failed to make the last eight. He should be fine in his opening matches though Pablo Cuevas or Kyle Edmund could be tricky in the third round. He’s then projected to meet Fernando Verdasco or Gael Monfils (fourth round), and Juan Martin del Potro or Karen Khachanov (quarters).
He’s good enough to win all of those matches and gain the right to stare down Djokovic in the last four.
He’s beaten Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. He’s no.6 in the world. He’s a YouTube star. He’s still 20.
This Greek sensation is a magnificent talent with an exciting all-round game that grows stronger by the month. Just in the past few weeks, Tsitsipas won Estoril, made the final of Madrid and the last four in Rome.
Tsitsipas has been given a nice draw with players he should beat into the fourth round. If he makes the second week, Stan Wawrinka (fourth round), Roger Federer (quarters) and Nadal (semis) are his projected opponents.
There could be some classics there.
He’s healthy again, the forehand is the same and he has a decent draw. What’s not to like here? Delpo is in Thiem’s quarter but he won’t have to face him until the last eight.
The Argentine looked very good for long stretches against Djokovic in Rome where he lost a very tight three-setter. If he’s playing well and the body holds up, why couldn’t he have a say in the second week?
If there is a surprise in Djokovic’s quarter, I think it will probably have something to do with this Croatian warrior. Coric’s game is remarkably similar to the world no.1’s and his improving results have put him on the cusp of the top 10.
I see the 22-year-old winning his opening matches comfortably, overcoming Denis Shapovalov in the third round, and then giving Djokovic an almighty scare in the fourth. If Djokovic is off his game, Coric can pounce.