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2017 French Open: Conflict on Clay

Who wins on the biggest clay court tournament around?

The 2017 French Open, also referred to as Roland Garros, begins today in Paris. It’s already down a big-name player on each side.

This tournament is famous for being the only Grand Slam event on a clay court. The different, perhaps difficult way this court plays, as opposed to the hard court or the grass of Wimbledon, takes a talented player to conquer.

Who are some of the key contenders in the second Grand Slam of the year? Keeping in mind, of course, that this is made a little easier by a few notable absences.

2017 French Open: Men’s Singles Draw

This year, the men’s draw will be without Roger Federer. Fed isn’t the same guy he was five to ten years ago, but even at 35, you wouldn’t want to be paired with him in the bracket. Yet, the vast majority of his Grand Slam wins came outside of Paris. He won it once, while taking the other majors at least five times each.

Rafael Nadal is around, and the “King of Clay” has a perfect opportunity to succeed. He has by far been more successful at the French Open than any other Grand Slam tournament. Nadal is a nine-time winner, which is already a men’s singles record. Winning Roland Garros a tenth time would be a remarkable statistic.

Finally, there is the defending champion, Novak Djokovic. He filled out the career Grand Slam last year, though he only has one win so far in 2017. That was at the start of the year at the Qatar Open in Doha. Djokovic was a shocking early exit in the Australian Open this January; perhaps he’ll be more motivated to avoid embarrassment this time.

2017 French Open: Women’s Singles Draw

The bigger of the two key absences is on the women’s side, as Serena Williams will not play. In fact, tennis won’t be on her to-do list for a while, being pregnant and all. Williams, one of the best women’s tennis players of all-time, leaves a major void in Paris. While the French Open was her least successful Grand Slam event, she did win it three times. As for it being her “least successful” and ONLY winning it three times, she won the other three Grand Slams at least six times. One of them was this year’s Australian Open.

When you take a player like that out of the mix, it’s going to completely rework the field. She may have won or she may not have, but she is number two in the world; her odds were better than most. This helps open up the field even further. Angelique Kerber looks perhaps like the favorite, though she has never won this event. In fact, her best finish was the quarterfinals in 2012.

Garbiñe Muguruza, last year’s champion, is a name to watch. Aside from taking Roland Garros in 2016, she got to the semifinals of the Rome Masters on clay last week. That’s as far as she got in last year’s Italian Open as well.

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