Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 5/26/12

Instead of the traditional French Open preview, highlighting the tournament favorites and past Grand Slam champions, I figured I’d look at a few interesting players to watch that may not necessarily be taking home the trophy this year. These players range from the upset specialists, the French, and the hopeless. Finally, predictions will be made to satisfy your traditional tennis needs.

A French Hope

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: The energetic Frenchmen recently has reached a career high of world number five, and while his booming serve and power ground game may not be suited for the red clay at Roland Garros, he does have a home-court advantage. There should always be some amount of skepticism with French players, as they never do seem to live up to expectations. But Tsonga’s on-court theatrics, crowd support, and booming serve could help him reach a semi if the clay plays a bit faster this year.

First Round Opponent: Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)

Upset Specialists

Alexandr Dolgopolov: Currently ranked number 20 in the world, the young Ukrainian is one of the most entertaining shotmakers on the tour. He hasn’t lived up to his lofty potential as of yet, but Dolgopolov has put a scare into many of the tours top players, most recently playing toe-to-toe with Djokovic at last year’s US Open. While he may not win the event, if he’s matched up with one of the top five players early, Dolgopolov could finally turn that corner people have been waiting for him to turn.

First Round Opponent: Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)

Janko Tipsarevic: Overshadowed by his grand slam winning countryman Novak Djokovic, the scholarly Tipsarevic is a formidable player in his own right, seeded 8th at the French. He also recently took down Novak on clay, so his game on the red stuff is not to be questioned. Unfortunately he seems to have a pretty difficult draw, potentially facing no. 12 ranked Nicolas Almagro in the round of 16 and six-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarters.

First Round Opponent: Sam Querrey (USA)

Absolutely No Chance

American Tennis Players: The sad state of American tennis today makes this category not much of a surprise. Americans have not been good on clay for a while now, most famously going 0-9 at the French in 2007. Former stars Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick have both struggled with their games, age, and injuries recently, making the 6’9” John Isner (world number 10) the USA’s best hope to win a slam. Isner’s huge serve and powerful groundstrokes are better suited for Wimbledon in July, and he is unlikely to be much of a factor in Paris. The upcoming Ryan Harrison also still seems to be a few years away from helping American tennis in a major way. Expect another poor showing for American players at the French this year.

All Too Probable Predictions

Predicted Winner: Rafael Nadal

Early Exit: Andy Murray

Surprise Semifinalist: Juan Martin Del Potro

Potential Early-Round Match to Watch: Roger Federer- David Nalbandian (2nd Round)

-Fitzburgh

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