10 things to know for the French Open

Associated Press  |  Last updated May 23, 2013
A look at 10 of the top topics at the French Open, the clay-court Grand Slam tennis tournament that begins Sunday and ends June 9: 1. WHY STOP AT SEVEN? Rafael Nadal already owns a record seven French Open titles - he broke a tie with Bjorn Borg by winning last year - and is widely considered the favorite to add No. 8. He is 36-2 this season, reaching the finals of all eight tournaments he's entered, winning six. And he's as good as it gets on red clay. 2. IF HE'S SO GOOD, WHY WASN'T NADAL SEEDED NO. 1? After a surprising second-round loss at Wimbledon last year, Nadal was off the tour for a little more than seven months, missing the last two Grand Slam tournaments and every other event - and missing out on the ranking points they offer. So he slid down to a current spot of No. 4, and while the French Open would have been allowed to bump him higher, it chose instead to stick to its policy of strictly adhering to the rankings when seeding players. 3. WHO COULD STOP NADAL? The man who is ranked and seeded No. 1, Novak Djokovic, is one of the two players to have beaten Nadal this season, and he did it on clay, no less. Djokovic also has won eight of their 11 meetings since the start of 2011. A six-time major champion, Djokovic is trying to complete a career Grand Slam (at least one title at each of tennis' four most important tournaments) in Paris after losing to Nadal in the final last year. 4. WHAT ABOUT ROGER FEDERER? Almost always overmatched against Nadal, particularly on clay, Federer still can show up with the serve and forehand to beat anyone else on any surface; he just hasn't been doing it lately as often as usual. The owner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles took a few months off to rest and recharge, so that affects the numbers, but this is the first season since 2000 that Federer has failed to win at least one title before the French Open. 5. IS THERE ANYONE ELSE? The French Open often has produced unpredictable results and champions - Gaston Gaudio, anyone? - but this has been quite a run by the Big 3 of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic: Dating back to the 2005 French Open, that trio has won 30 of the last 32 Grand Slam tournaments. And the guys who claimed the other two - Andy Murray at last year's U.S. Open, and Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open - both pulled out of the French Open. 6. CAN SERENA WILLIAMS LOSE? She sure did a year ago at Roland Garros, and quickly, too: It is her only first-round exit in 50 Grand Slam appearances. Since then? She is 67-3 with Wimbledon, U.S. Open and London Olympics titles, and a return to the No. 1 ranking at age 31. She comes to Paris on a 24-match winning streak, the longest of her distinguished career. 7. COW ON ICE? That's how Maria Sharapova famously described her awkward movement on the red clay years ago, but just look at her now. She won the 2012 French Open to complete her career Grand Slam and five of her last six titles came on the slippery surface. ''The most difficult aspect is the footing,'' John McEnroe said about playing on clay, ''the inability to make that quick first step that you're able to do on a surface where you can stop and start on a dime.'' 8. SHOW THEM THE MONEY? Top tennis players have been lobbying for a bigger cut of the revenues at Grand Slam tournaments, and they're getting it. The French Open boosted overall prize money by nearly 18 percent this year, to about 22 million euros (about $28.4 million). And the singles champions? They each get 1.5 million euros (about $1.9 million), a 20 percent increase. The U.S. Open recently promised to hike its total purse to $50 million by 2017. 9. FRENCH CHAMPION? It's been quite some time since the French fans had a French champion to cheer for at their Grand Slam tournament - or any Grand Slam tournament, for that matter. Yannick Noah was the last man from France to win a major championship in tennis, and he did it all the way back in 1983 at Roland Garros. (If his last name looks familiar, it might be because his son, Joakim Noah, plays for the NBA's Chicago Bulls.) Only Spain has as many men (three) currently ranked in the top 20 as France does: No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 9 Richard Gasquet, No. 17 Gilles Simon. 10. LOVE AND LOVE? There are some familiar faces spending time with top tennis players, whether it's golf star Rory McIlroy with former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki or music act RedFoo with two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka or two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin with 12th-ranked Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova, formerly engaged to basketball player Sasha Vujacic, is now linked to 28th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov (who beat Djokovic this month in Madrid). --- Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Report: Title contender planning to poach Curry from Warriors

Fitzpatrick on negotiations: I wouldn’t wish it on anybody

NBA players to fund health insurance for former players

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Geno Smith 'intent' on beating out Ryan Fitzpatrick

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

Jack Nicklaus puzzled by Tiger Woods' woes, golf absence

Brown responds to Marshall's high-stakes challenge

Seven most mind-boggling NFL contracts of 2016

Is Jackie Bradley Jr. the Red Sox’s MVP?

Did Joey Votto reject kid who asked for his batting gloves?

Rams got it right releasing Nick Foles, trusting Jared Goff

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

Tennis News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker